His defensive mistake resulted in a goal against the LA Kings, but don’t expect Mikey Anderson to make a habit out of that.
This past Friday night, the LA Kings suffered a hard-fought 4-2 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Wild. En route to the defeat, Wild rookie phenom Kirill Kaprizov scored twice, including a beautiful individual effort that stymied defenseman Mikey Anderson. Of course, while it may have been easy to place blame on the young blueliner, it is essential to realize that, like it or not, the 21-year-old is going to make mistakes — not because he’s prone to them but because, well, again, he’s 21.
The last few weeks may have been frustrating for Kings fans in watching their team, for lack of a better term, underachieve. Let us not forget, though, that the vast majority of the current roster is inexperienced in regards to battling for a playoff spot. Heck, due to the early suspension of the season, those who were with the Kings last year couldn’t even experience what it was like to battle for a playoff spot. Mikey Anderson is no exception to this, whose NHL career prior to this season consisted all of six games.
For Anderson, though, Friday’s gaffe was noticeable but nothing that should be — or is — indicative of his talent or his potential as a full-time NHL defenseman. After all, Anderson’s mistake was the result of a play made by the aforementioned Kaprizov who, while an NHL rookie, has six years of professional playing experience under his belt. The Russian speedster is also a heavy Calder favorite and a major reason why the Wild are considered Stanley Cup favorites.
As for Anderson, he addressed the instance with the media on Monday following Kings’ practice.
“Looking back at that play, I was coming off the bench there and the [the Wild had] a quick up and coming onto the ice and trying to get an angle, get a gap if you can, but obviously, there [are] different scenarios for what to do,” the defenseman explained. “But, that case, I’d skate forward to try and keep to the outside. [Kaprizov is] a great player, so when he was coming down, I knew he’s a guy that would potentially cut back to the middle, so I tried to take that away and once he kind of opened up his stick, that was right when I flipped around backwards and then he tried to protect against that and it came back through his legs, and at that point, I was done.”
Perhaps it’s the way he conducts himself in interviews that makes many forget that Mikey Anderson is still just a rookie. Regardless, the Minnesota-Duluth alum chalks it up as a learning experience.
“That was a great move but it’s– looking back, you know they’re gonna make good plays every now and then,” Anderson continued. “At the same time, I feel like I could have had a better angle, could have maybe taken a different route getting across the ice to give myself a little bit better chance but, you know, that happens when you’re when you’re playing against top guys like that.”
Of course, if having the right attitude is what it takes to become a full-time NHL defenseman, then Mikey Anderson is well on his way.
“Personally, I think about it for a second there but you don’t have time to really sulk about it or trying to analyze it too much,” the 21-year-old said of the Kaprizov goal. “So, I think for the rest of the game, you try and shake it off, maybe look at the replay right away. But then, it’s back to game mode, you try and forget about it.”
While it is a tired old cliche to suggest that whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, it is such because it’s nonetheless accurate.
“After the game, you can look at it, see what you’ve got to do differently but at the end of the day, it’s one play,” Anderson noted. “So, it’s something to try and look at, figure out maybe a different way to defend it or what I could have done a little differently and try and learn, but not really think about it too much.”
While they are still in the hunt for a playoff spot, the LA Kings are not quite a playoff team yet, and that’s okay. For Mikey Anderson, his gaffe on Friday is, quite frankly, minuscule in the grand scheme of things.
In 44 games this season, Anderson has been a defensive force, blocking 61 shots while averaging 21:09 of ice time per game, all the while, for the vast majority of the season, being paired with one of the league’s premier defensemen in Drew Doughty.
Anderson has recently been paired with Matt Roy and on Monday night, scored his first goal of the season — the eventual game-winner — to lead the Kings past the Anaheim Ducks by a 4-1 count.
For anyone who suggests that Mikey Anderson isn’t NHL ready or that the Kings should think twice about investing in the youngster could be, with all due respect, too quick to judge.
Is it frustrating to watch some of these youngsters make mistakes? Certainly. But, it is key to remember that this all part of the growing process. So, for Mikey Anderson — and the rest of the Kings youngsters — it is better to experience these shortcomings now because, in a short time, they will be nothing short of a blip in the rearview mirror.