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Stastny doesn’t practice, Barbashev likely to center Blues’ top line in Game 1

The St. Louis Blues and Vladimir Tarasenko must be firing on all cylinders to combat Devan Dubnyk and the Minnesota Wild.

Paul Stastny has not played for the St. Louis Blues since March 21 due to a lower body injury, and it is not yet known if he will be ready for the start of their playoff series against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.

Adding to that uncertainty is the fact he did not take part in practice on Tuesday.

That means it will likely be rookie forward Ivan Barbashev skating on the team’s top line between Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko.
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“To be honest, I’m really excited,” Barbashev said on Tuesday via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Especially with those guys in the playoffs. It’s awesome. I don’t know, just really happy about it and I’m looking forward to the first playoff game.”

The 21-year-old Barbashev has appeared in 30 games for the Blues this season, recording five goals and seven assists. That is pretty strong production when you take into account he has only averaged just a little more than 11 minutes of ice-time per game and has received almost no power play time. His current 2.23 points per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 play is the highest mark on the team this season. He is entering the playoffs on a four-game point streak for the Blues.

When Stastny was initially injured the Blues did not think it was going to be a serious injury, but it has been serious enough to keep him out of the lineup for several weeks.

Along with Barbashev centering the top line, the Blues were also using Vladimir Sobotka, who recently rejoined the team as part of his on-again, off-again relationship with the organization, on the third-line alongside Jori Lehtera and Alexander Steen.

The Blues are already playing without forward Robby Fabbri due to an ACL injury that ended his season.

The Blues enter the playoffs with the lowest odds to win the Stanley Cup, but are 22-8-2 under coach Mike Yeo and have been playing some of their best hockey of the season in recent weeks.