Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Fabbri continues to work, remain patient during trying season

Forward hasn't had season many expected, 
will get back in lineup Thursday at Ottawa

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- It was a day similar to many in recent weeks for Robby Fabbri on Wednesday.

Get to the rink early, go get an off-ice workout, put the hockey gear on, get on the ice early before his teammates, practice, stay on the ice late before coming off and going about the daily routine after  day at the office.

What Fabbri would like to change and will change for the next game Thursday to begin a three-game road trip against the Ottawa Senators is being in the lineup on a more consistent basis and not in the press box.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
It hasn't been the kind of season Blues forward Robby Fabbri (15), looking
to gather a loose puck in a recent game against Nashvlle, has hoped for.

A rash of injuries will put Fabbri in the lineup for the first time since March 1 and for just the 15th time in 45 games on Thursday, giving him a chance at seizing the moment.

To say the least, it has not been the storybook season Fabbri, 23, was hoping for, a season that marked his comeback from two major left knee surgeries that forced him to miss a season and a half that was derailed by a shoulder injury on Dec. 1.

Fabbri was penciled in a top nine role when he was finally declared to play, but players from San Antonio were being recalled and put into the lineup ahead of him after things went awry, including Zach Sanford, Sammy Blais, Mackenzie MacEachern, and even Jordan Nolan. Others had passed him on the depth chart, including Oskar Sundqvist and Ivan Barbashev.

"It definitely wasn't the season I was drilling up in my mind, but I think the expectations I had for myself were a little unrealistic," Fabbri said Wednesday before the Blues departed for Canada's capital city. "Coming off what I went through, to get your body back into it to start and get your game back took a little longer than I thought and people thought. It's coming along good right now. I feel good in the gym or on the ice. That's all I'm focusing on right now."

At this point in the season, it's all Fabbri can focus on. He has just five points (two goals, three assists) in 29 games, a season where he missed the first month (10 games) as his body was adjusting to the rigors of hockey life and was faced with dealing with minor ailments, such as a sore back, groin and hip.

He made his debut on Nov. 1 against Vegas and played 15 games before separating his shoulder against Arizona on Dec. 1, forcing him to miss 11 games. But picking up where Fabbri left off prior to the knee injuries wasn't coming along like he had hoped, and the minutes began to dwindle, there were more frequent healthy scratches, including a stretch from Jan. 19-Feb. 14 and he only got in during the franchise-record 11-game winning streak because at the time he played on Feb. 16 at Colorado, Alexander Steen's wife was having a baby back in St. Louis.

"It's been a tough road obviously for him with his injuries," Blues interim coach Craig Berube said of Fabbri. "It's hard. You get in there, it's hard to get that consistency needed night in, night out. But we're going to get him in there next game.

"... He's worked hard. He's done extra, he's kept a good attitude, he's been good with his teammates. He's done extra in the gym, on the ice. That's all good, all positive stuff."

Fabbri has been a healthy scratch the past five games, making it 20 games this season as being a healthy body in the press box. His last game, the stat sheet showed he was a minus-4 against the Hurricanes in the 5-2 loss but pointed out that it was a bit deceiving with an empty-net goal and a couple that were given to him as he was coming onto the ice.

Fabbri had liked his game leading into it and his knee issues are the least of his worries.

"It was one of those games where not a lot was going right for the whole team," Fabbri said. "It was a big game for us we needed to show up for and it was a tough one that we didn't.

"With saying I've been feeling good in the gym and on the ice, those (previous) games made me feel like I was back to myself again. I felt good about my game, but that's all I'm focusing on, the good things I did in those games and building from that."

The Blues felt they had to be prepared with Fabbri and not to expect too much when he did get back in the groove of playing. Things weren't just going to pick up where they left off when he got hurt and patience was important to remember.

"Yeah, I think that in the back of our minds, we've got to be patient with him," Berube said. "We have, but on the other side of it, it's hard. You're in a playoff fight, you're trying to get in, as a coaching staff, we've got to make sure we're doing all the right things that give us the best chance to win. And that's what it boils down to. You always put the team first. That's our mindset here. The players here have accepted that for the most part, putting the team first and I think Robby has too. His attitude's been really good and his work ethic's been really good.

"... He's been out for almost two years of hockey, missing training camps and things like that; that's hard to get that pop and pace back that's needed to play the game at a high level. As a coaching staff, we just try to reiterate that stuff and talk to him about staying positive and having a good attitude and keep working. That's all you can do. Now he's going to get another opportunity."

Fabbri, who had 37 points (18 goals, 19 assists) in 72 games his rookie season in 2015-16 and followed it up with 29 points (11 goals, 18 assists) in 51 games in 2016-17 before getting injured Feb. 4, 2017, is putting the team's needs ahead of his own personal goals. And all he can do now is remain positive and try and help the Blues (36-26-7) down the stretch and hopefully into the playoffs.

If he's angry inside, he's doing a good job of not showing it.
(St. Louis Blues photo)
Robby Fabbri (15) has just five points in 29 games this season and has battled
to gain back his form, trying to fight back from two major knee operations.

"Frustrated to say the least, but in those games I did get in, I felt I was getting my step back and getting everything back," Fabbri said. "Each game was getting better. It's just about coming in and doing what I've been doing in the gym and just doing what I've been doing on the ice because whatever it was that I've been working on has helped me. There's nothing really specific. I've had a lot of time to train and work on things. It's just the basics.

"I've never been on the end of it like this, but I think this is good. To experience it and to really build my character and work out of it is really going to help me down the road. ... I'm coming in early, working out, getting on the ice, being on early, being off late working on a couple things. You can do that when you're not in the lineup because those are the times you have to work hard and work extra. Hey, I'm just going to wait and when I get the call, I'll be ready."

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