Sunday, April 21, 2013

Missing Mikko

Today, the Wild kick off their final week of the season, seeking a playoff bid for the first time in five years. They enter the game losers of 7 of their last 10 games and now clinging to the 7th seed in the West, after watching St. Louis get hot and fly past them in the standings.

A big factor in the Wild's cold streak, has been the play of their captain Mikko Koivu. Koivu has played one of the worst stretches of his career in the last 10 games, just registering one goal during that time, while posting a -6 (Including a horrible -3 Thursday night in San Jose).

Mikko's poor stats are a perfect reflection of his play these past 10 games. His play in the defensive zone has been poor, he oft turns the puck over, and he has been kryptonite to the Wild's power play by more times opting to pass, when he has a great shot to take.

As we have learned in past years, Mikko is such an important factor in the Wild lineup. In fact, when he has gone down with injury in recent seasons, the Wild fall apart without him. Last year, he missed 27 games and watched the Wild fall from #1 in the NHL to missing the playoffs (But an argument can be made for lack of depth on the team last year, especially when Warren Peters was getting significant ice time).

If the Wild wants to even get in the playoffs at this point, they need Koivu to start just playing better. He doesn't have to necessarily get points, but he just needs to be more smart when he hits the ice. Because right now, his play is just as bad as if he was out of the lineup.

Perhaps mixing up the top line would benefit Koivu, and linemate Charlie Coyle, who is also snake bitten as of late. But with other lines producing well, it is not likely that the lines will be juggled (The Bouchard-Brodziak-Pominville line has become Minnesota's best line). So Koivu will have to solve his issues with Coyle and Zach Parise on the wings.

Seriously folks, Mikko Koivu is what makes this ship run. Not Zach Parise. Not Ryan Suter. Not Niklas Backstrom. Its Mikko Koivu. They need him now more than ever before. Because he will be the difference between a playoff berth or another missed postseason.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

No comments:

Post a Comment