With the St. Louis Blues having lost three games in a row, the coaching staff is searching for anything to turn things around. Shaking up the defense is definitely on the list.
According to Jim Thomas’ report, the team is considering taking Niko Mikkola out of the lineup. It is slightly understandable given that he was on the ice for a couple goals in the team’s meltdown 4-3 loss on February 8.
However, the goals were not exactly his fault. Even Craig Berube stated this.
“I think that he’s done a good job on the penalty kill. He’s been good closing plays out,” Berube said, as reported by Thomas. “I think the other night, a little bit of a tough night for him on a couple goals he was on the ice for. It’s not all his fault. I’m not saying that. He’s a young kid yet. Still learning. But overall, his game’s been pretty good.”
More from Editorials
- St. Louis Blues Need Kasperi Kapanen To Be On Best Behavior
- Hayes’ Debut And Other Bold Predictions for the St. Louis Blues
- St. Louis Blues Captaincy Is Suddenly A Huge Problem For 2023-24
- St. Louis Blues National Games Cause More Problems Than They’re Worth
- St. Louis Blues Brayden Schenn Has To Be An Impact Player In 2023-24
As Berube stated, they’ve been using Mikkola on the penalty kill. Why should he be singled out when there was little he could have done differently?
Mikkola was on the ice for the game tying goal. He was where a defender should be though.
The Blues were shorthanded during this situation. Mikkola takes a spot right in front of the net, guarding the man who is right in front of the net.
There’s not much he could do with two men on the doorstep. He took the spot where he could guard the man in front and also block a shot. Unfortunately, the puck deflected over to the extra man on the side of the net.
Mikkola should not be punished due to other players taking idiotic penalties. What would his removal from the lineup gain you anyway?
Nothing against Carl Gunnarsson, but Mikkola has shown a willingness to defend, be physical and also shoot the puck in the few opportunities he has had. Gunnarsson is steady, but despite that famous goal he scored against Boston, he passes up a lot of chances too.
Along the same topic, why is Vince Dunn still in the lineup if we are punishing mistakes? He continues to take foolish penalties and make poor passes, but he still gets his power play time and a regular spot in the lineup. A one game benching did not do much to turn him around, other than a couple goals that likely would have come anyway due to Dunn’s style of play.
The NHL is still a league where time of service means something, so rookies are often the odd man out. Honestly, what message does it send a kid if they are taken out of a lineup when a teammate at the same position is doing the same things or worse and continuing to play?
Maybe Mikkola will not be removed and this was just a practice lineup to keep guys in the loop. Or, maybe Mikkola takes a seat and Gunnarsson has a great game.
The overall point though is that taking Mikkola out won’t solve the team’s current issues. There’s just a weird disconnect between how the Blues know they need to play and what they are actually doing and Mikkola has not been part of that disconnect.