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Sunday, April 13, 2014

St. Louis Blues: Ian Cole should play in playoffs

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On Sunday afternoon, St. Louis Blues defenseman Ian Cole played his first game since March 29 and in only his second game since March 17. Cole's presence in the lineup against the Detroit Red Wings only happened because Barret Jackman was scratched from the lineup, as were many players because of injuries and just to get rest as the team limps into the playoffs.

The absence of Cole from the lineup for such a long time is mind-boggling and it is easy to see that he is one of head coach Ken Hitchcock's favorite dog house members.

But Cole should be playing. He should play every game because he is clearly better than the alternatives, Carlo Colaiacovo and Jordan Leopold.

And he should be paired with Roman Polak once the playoffs start.

Sure Cole makes some mistakes, and at times those mistakes come in some very untimely situations. But overall, he brings more to the table then Colaiacovo and Leopold, and it is not even close.

Cole has played in 45 games and has posted a plus 15 on the season, which is the seventh highest on the roster, higher than captain David Backes and golden boy Vladimir Sobotka. Cole's plus/minus is the third highest among all defenseman on the roster, with only stalwarts Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester posting higher numbers.

Cole provides some offensive punch too. He has 11 points on the season as a third-line pairing defenseman that rarely sees any power play time. Meanwhile, Colaiacovo, who does see time on the power play on occassion, and Leopold have combined for just 10 points in 50 games.

So, please explain to me how either Colaiacovo or Leopold are better options than Cole?

Isn't Cole superior defensively and offensively to both?

Why has Cole continued to sit in the press box while Colaiacovo has played a majority of the games down the stretch while the team has struggled?

The third-line, left-handed defenseman situation is hardly a reason for the team's collapse down the stretch. Much of that can be attributed to injuries and a lack of discipline within the game plan.

The Blues will need all the jump in their steps as they can get once the playoffs begin and especially if they are missing any of their top forwards who missed the season finale against the Red Wings.

Cole can provide that jump. He can provide that disciplined type of hockey in the defensive zone and help clear the net in front of Ryan Miller. Cole can jump up into the play and make something happen offensively.

Cole has been in the dog house for a long time, but its time for Hitch to stop playing favorites and start playing Ian Cole once the playoffs begin.

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