Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook: On Blues' Fourth Line, Center Role Is Subject to Change

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Notebook: On Blues' Fourth Line, Center Role Is Subject to Change

Article excerpt

When Ivan Barbashev showed up at the Nassau Coliseum for the Blues' game Monday against the New York Islanders, he looked at the lineup sheet in the dressing room and got concerned. He didn't see his name.

"Then I realized they moved me back to center," he said, re-creating his sigh of relief. "I was like, 'Oh, OK. Good.'"

The lesson learned for Barbashev? "Got to look everywhere. You never know."

That's how it's been on the Blues' fourth line, where Barbashev and Sundqvist regularly trade the center spot back and forth. Saturday in Montreal, Sundqvist was the center. Monday, it was Barbashev. Thursday night against Vancouver, it was back to Barbashev. (With Robert Thomas, back from an injury, playing on the right wing.)

"That's how it is," Sundqvist said. "It doesn't matter though. I can play both. ... We have to come here to see where we're supposed to be playing today."

The distinction is irrelevant at times as the two change roles throughout the game. When there's a faceoff on the right, Sundqvist's strong side, he takes it. When there's a faceoff on the left, Barbashev's strong side, he takes it. That's what determines who is playing center on any one play.

"They take their draws on their strong side, so whoever takes it plays center that shift," coach Craig Berube said. "That's how it works, which is a real good thing for us, to have two guys out there, both can play center, take faceoffs on their strong side, so it's a positive."

"It hasn't been a discussion about it, just me as a righty taking the right side," Sundqvist said, "and him as a lefty taking the left side."

AS SEEN ON TV

When the Blues crowded around the Resolute desk in the Oval Office for a picture Tuesday, there were only three Blues from the United States in the photo. Mackenzie MacEachern and Zach Sanford are still on this year's team, and Chris Butler, who retired after last season, came along. …

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