In what seems to be a miracle, a certain St. Louis Blues’ center seems to be finally losing favor with the coaching staff.
The St. Louis Blues have had a problem at the center position for what seems to be an eternity now. After the 2013-2014 season, it seemed as if this was all coming to an end as the team signed Paul Stastny and had finally lured Jori Lehtera away from Russia. It seemed as if the center problems were finally coming to an end for the Blues. However, this wasn’t the case as both players have seemingly been a disappointment since with Lehtera being the most disappointing.
Stastny in my opinion, has been slightly less than advertised. In my opinion, this is due to his usage as a 2nd-3rd line center for most of his time in St. Louis. Up until this season, he had rarely been featured with the Blues’ best scoring forwards in Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz.
On the other hand, Jori Lehtera often finds himself on a line with those two players. Statistically speaking this has been a major dud, as Lehtera’s amassed 97 points in 212 games. This is after he put up 44 points in his first season with the Blues.
Despite the lack of production, Lehtera is constantly skating on the Blues’ top line. Not only that but Lehtera has also constantly been a feature on the St. Louis Blues’ power play.
When Mike Yeo took over as head coach after the firing of Ken Hitchcock, he instantly installed Stastny on the top line. During the Blues’ five-game losing streak, he put Lehtera back on the top line for no apparent reason.
During tonight’s game, things changed as Stastny was back with Tarasenko and Schwartz. However, things were quite different tonight than they have been. Not only did Stastny return to the top line, but Lehtera found himself on the third line. Lehtera also didn’t see any time on the power play and was dead last in terms of ice time among all players with 11:19 of ice time.
This has been a long time coming, as Lehtera simply has been a liability for this team. He is constantly outworked for pucks, shying away from the dirty areas, and is at times lost on the ice. One can only hope that either this is something that continues as this team is much better without Lehtera at the top. In my opinion, the team should be looking to get Ivan Barbashev some time at the center position. This would require scratching Jori Lehtera and would probably be best for this team moving forward.
What are your thoughts on Lehtera’s diminishing ice time and role tonight? Is it a sign of things to come or should we not get our hopes up? Let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you.
In case you missed our last post regarding, the usage of the St. Louis Blues’ younger players, you can catch it out here!
As a reminder, I am still looking for writers to join me in this adventure. So, if you know someone who is passionate about the St. Louis Blues, Cardinals, or Movies and wants to give this writing thing a shot, just let me know!