SUNRISE, Fla. — Ivan Barbashev appreciates being on this stage again at the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s kind of a fairy-tale story to be honest,” said the forward, who won the Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2019 and has a chance to do it again now with the Vegas Golden Knights. “Getting traded and only being here for three months, it’s special.
“I just played for one team basically my whole career and a [it was] little bit weird at first. But it does make it really special, being on another team and to do it with the guys I’ve only met three months ago.”
He’s certainly adjusted. After having 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 23 regular-season games following a trade from the Blues on Feb. 26, Barbashev has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in 19 games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Golden Knights, who play the Florida Panthers in Game 3 here Thursday (8 p.m. ET; TNT, TBS, truTV, CBC, SN, TVAS). Vegas leads the best-of-7 series 2-0.
When Barbashev was acquired, he filled a critical need immediately. The Golden Knights were already missing forward Mark Stone, who had back surgery Jan. 31, and forward William Carrier would sustain a lower-body injury in a 4-3 shootout win against the New Jersey Devils on March 3. Each missed the rest of the regular season.
It was quite a change at first for Barbashev, who was selected by the Blues in the second round (No. 33) of the 2014 NHL Draft and had played for them since the 2016-17 season.
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During St. Louis’ Cup run, he was part of a strong fourth line with center Oskar Sundqvist and right wing Alexander Steen, finishing with six points (three goals, three assists) in 25 playoff games that season. Now the left wing is part of Vegas’ dynamic top line with center Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault.
“He was more of an energy guy (in St. Louis),” said Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy, who was coach of the Boston Bruins when St. Louis defeated them in seven games in the 2019 Final. “… Going back on pucks, they were going to finish checks all over the ice. He still does that here, but we put him in more of a skill role.
“He may or may not have been that player (with the Blues) — it’s four years ago, I don’t know — but whatever they did in St. Louis worked. I saw it firsthand, so the lines were appropriately built. But there’s an area [where] we thought we could get more out of him, and he has. He can make small-area plays, he sees the ice.”
Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who won the Cup in St. Louis with Barbashev, knew he’d fit in with Vegas.
“I saw him in the playoffs in 2019 and he played a big role that year,” Pietrangelo said. “I don’t even call it the fourth line, but that line played some big minutes against other teams’ top lines and ‘Barby’ is a competitive player, always has been. This time of year, that’s what you want. For me it was a no-brainer: Bring a guy in who knows how to win and is competitive as [heck] at this time…
Read More: Barbashev fitting in with Golden Knights entering Game 3 of Cup Final 2023-06-07 23:44:33