By LOU KORAC
ST. LOUIS -- It was 362 days ago the last time Robby Fabbri faced the boots, sharpened the blades and donned the Bluenote for an actual game.
A second ACL tear in his left knee forced Fabbri to miss all of last season, and that night in Washington, D.C. against the Washington Capitals on Sept. 22, 2017 was Fabbri's last time on the ice in an actual game.
Fabbri will be in the lineup for the Blues (0-1-0) when they take on the Minnesota Wild (0-1-0) at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa, the home of the Wild's American Hockey League affiliate, the Iowa Wild.
Fabbri had surgery to repair his left knee for the second time after initially injuring it Feb. 4, 2017, the last regular season game he played in against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but after all the rehabilitation and training, it's time to put the skills back to use on the ice.
"I'm excited. It'll be good," Fabbri said. "Everything feels good. I'm excited to get in tonight. Hopefully I'll get in more than just one preseason game this year. ... I've been practicing and working all summer. You can't really replicate a game situation. Tonight's going to be a good test and I'm looking forward to it."
Fabbri will likely get the opportunity to play on one of the top two lines with either Jaden Schwartz and Brayden Schenn or Alexander Steen and Tyler Bozak with David Perron (undisclosed), who was expected to play after taking the morning skate, left behind in St. Louis for precautionary reasons.
"I'm excited to watch [Fabbri] play tonight," Blues coach Mike Yeo said. "We're going to rearrange our lines a little bit. David Perron's not going to travel with us now. We're going to hold him out tonight just to be safe, just to be on the smart side. We'll rearrange things. Whether we move Robby up with 'Schwartzy' or 'Schenner' or we might move 'Blazer' [Sammy Blais] up with 'Schwartzy' and 'Schenner' and move Robby to the left side with Bozak and Steen. We'll take a look at that right now and figure that out, but either way, you brought up a question about Robby, he's going to get a chance to play with some good players here tonight. I think he's looked good in camp. You can tell he's not clean, you can tell that his confidence isn't quite there and his timing's not quite there, which is 100 percent understandable given the time that he's missed. But the tenacity's there, the speed, the puck pursuit's all there. Everything else will come along.
"I want to see him play and play well. There's really not a complicated answer to it."
Fabbri's teammates and friends want to see him play well, too.
"I'm really excited to see what he can do," Blues defenseman Joel Edmundson said. "He's looking good so far in camp and he's been healthy so far. I think all the boys are excited to see what he can bring to the ice tonight. Tonight's going to be the first challenge for him. It should be a hard game for us and we just want to go in there and play the way we can. ... He doesn't look like he's lost a step at all. He's still the same playmaker he is. Hopefully it carrys over."
The game can be heard on KMOX 1120-AM and on Sports Radio 98.1 HD3. Fans can also listen live at stlouisblues.com or by using the NHL App and setting the St. Louis Blues as their favorite team.
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The Blues are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, but Yeo was pleased with the play of many, including Jordan Kyrou, who had a goal and an assist and led the Blues with seven of their 38 shots playing with Ryan O'Reilly and Pat Maroon.
"He did a really good last night," Yeo said of Kyrou. "He helped himself, there's no question. Very involved. Not just getting the goal and assist. Probably was a little unlucky not to get a little bit more on the scoresheet there. I'm impressed with the way he was able to use his speed, impressed with the way he was able to use his linemates and be a threat long night long. There was more than that. He was rubbing out guys, you see him getting a piece of them, being physical. You see him using his speed for more than just scoring chances but creating turnovers and applying back pressure. I thought he did a really nice job last game."
Kyrou was fifth in minutes played at 20:36. O'Reilly was third at 22:20 and Maroon, who scored, played over 17 minutes.
"That line was certainly our most dangerous," Yeo said. "They were a threat all night. They were very good. The three of them played very well together. That's the best that Pat Maroon has looked so far in camp. He was moving his feet. You got to see him go to work where he's most dangerous. That's down low in the offensive zone. It's so hard to get the puck off of him. A couple really good quality chances around the net, got robbed on another one similar to the goal that he scored. He outmuscles people, finds way to have his stick on the ice and be at the right place at the right time."
Defenseman Colton Parayko led all players at 27:19. Some may think that's a bit excessive for a preseason game, but Yeo, who noted that assistant coach Mike Van Ryn was at the controls of the defensive minutes, was impressed.
"You look at his conditioning, you look at his skating ability, he can play big minutes; there's no question," Yeo said of Parayko, who had an assist. "I don't think 27's the typical number for a regular season night, bu that doesn't mean there might not be nights like that. He played well. He played very well. For his first exhibition game, he was all over the ice and he was strong."
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Goalie Ville Husso will make his first appearance of the preseason tonight and Yeo said he'll get the entire game.
Husso is likely destined to be the No. 1 goalie for the San Antonio Rampage of the AHL, but he hopes to build off a shutout of the Capitals last preseason on Sept. 22, a 4-0 Blues win.
"It was a good game, but I think I improved a lot from that point," said Husso, who has never played more than 41 games (twice with HIFK Helsinki) in a season. "I think I can be better now. ... I want to get a lot of games and get a good feeling going. It's not a bad thing if I need to go to AHL and get some games over there. At the same time, I want to stay over here and be the NHL first goalie."
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Defenseman Robert Bortuzzo, who left Monday's second half of practice with a lower-body injury and needed an MRI on Tuesday, was expected to get a couple days off, according to Yeo. But Bortuzzo was on the ice and skated with the gameday group on Wednesday morning after Yeo said the MRI came back fine.
"I kind of needed a day after things settles down," Bortuzzo said. "Other than that, I took the scheduled day off and I was comfortable getting back out there today.
"Just wear and tear of training camp coming off summer. We had a pretty rigorous couple days. Nothing to be concerned about. I feel good."
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The Blues' projected lineup:
Jaden Schwartz-Brayden Schenn-Sammy Blais
Robby Fabbri-Tyler Bozak-Alexander Steen
Austin Poganski-Ivan Barbashev-Klim Kostin
Alexei Toropchenko-Adam Musil-Chris Thorburn
Joel Edmundson-Alex Pietrangelo
Jake Walman-Mitch Reinke
Niko Mikkola-Sam Lofquist
Ville Husso will start in goal and play the entire game; Evan Fitzpatrick will be the backup.
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The Wild's roster includes:
Forwards: Cal O'Reilly, Matt Read, Eric Staal, Jason Zucker, Marcus Foligno, Eric Fehr, Mason Shaw, Mikael Granlund, Gerard Mayhew, Dmitry Sokolov, Colton Beck
Defensemen: Ryan Murphy, Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Eric Martinsson, Brennan Menell, Hunter Warner
Goalies: Alex Stalock, Kaapo Kahkonen
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