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Bruins notebook

Blues' Sobotka plays a key role

Blues give him first-line duty

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By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / February 23, 2012
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ST. LOUIS - In the eyes of his boss, Vladimir Sobotka is the Blues’ version of Chris Kelly or Rich Peverley. The former Bruin, the 106th overall pick of the 2005 draft, can play center or wing. He is a third-liner who can move up to the first unit when necessary.

Last night was one of those cases.

Sobotka is usually Ken Hitchcock’s third-line left wing. Last night, Hitchcock promoted Sobotka to the No. 1 line, where he rode shotgun with David Backes and T.J. Oshie against the Bruins.

With veteran right wing Jamie Langenbrunner out with a broken foot, Hitchcock shuffled his lines in search of more balance. Sobotka skated 19 shifts for 14:50 of ice time and was on the ice for two of the Bruins’ goals in their 4-2 win.

“It’s a good fit for us, because he takes a lot of the left-side faceoffs for David,’’ Hitchcock said before the game. “That helps. They start with the puck more. The other thing is he’s a smart player. He knows how to manage the game properly. He’s good on the forecheck.

“He’s a lot like Kelly is or Peverley is for Boston. He’s able to move up and down the lineup and be productive. We’d like him to hit the net more. He’s wearing out the glass in some of the buildings. If we can get him to hit the net more, he’ll be all right.’’

In three seasons in the Boston organization, Sobotka made a name for himself as a gritty third-line center. In 2009-10, he had four goals and six assists in 61 regular-season games.

On June 26, 2010, the Bruins traded Sobotka to St. Louis for the rights to Boston University defenseman David Warsofsky. The Bruins already had David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, and Marc Savard as their top three centers. Four days earlier, they had acquired Gregory Campbell from Florida in the Nathan Horton trade. The previous day, they had drafted Tyler Seguin. Sobotka was the odd man out.

So far, St. Louis is the winner in the deal. Last year, Sobotka had seven goals and 22 assists in 65 games. This season he has three goals and 14 assists while averaging more than 15 minutes of ice time per game. He also has 110 hits, third most on the team.

Prices going up

Season ticket-holders will be eligible to renew their 2012-13 seats starting today. According to the Bruins, seats will go up by an average of $5.25 for next season. Amy Latimer, senior vice president of sales and marketing, said season tickets will be capped at 12,000 seats, which is this season’s ceiling as well.

According to Shaun Vigeant, a fourth-year season ticket-holder, the price of his balcony seats will rise from $32 apiece this season to $52.50 in 2012-13. Vigeant, who lives in Melrose, will renew, but said he had to think about it.

“I love being a season ticket-holder,’’ Vigeant wrote in an e-mail. “But an increase like this is really outrageous to me and warrants a serious explanation.’’

Move isn’t there

The Coyotes acquired Antoine Vermette from Columbus yesterday, a move that indicates they are pushing to make some postseason noise and not putting Ray Whitney on the block. Had Whitney been available to Boston, the veteran wing could have assumed the role vacated by Mark Recchi . . . The Bruins kicked the tires on Tuomo Ruutu, but the hard-nosed wing re-signed with Carolina yesterday. Ruutu, who would have been an unrestricted free agent, signed a four-year, $19 million extension . . . Carter Camper made his NHL debut, centering Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot. Camper won 5 of 8 faceoffs while playing 6:21. Camper and Caron were benched in the third period, as Julien opted for experience. Camper wore No. 58 . . . Shawn Thornton was in his usual spot alongside Campbell and Daniel Pailleafter not skating yesterday morning because he was sick . . . Adam McQuaid squared off with B.J. Crombeen after Boston’s first goal. McQuaid got the better of Crombeen early in the fight, using his reach and power. Crombeen rallied late to score the takedown . . . Andrew Bodnarchuk and Josh Hennessy were the healthy scratches.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.

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