Mix n’ Match Does the Job

Apologies for not posting in 11 days. Here’s a quick recap:

Nothing went right. The Wild blew a three-goal lead against a terrible team, lost a bunch of shootouts and saw their “comfortable” playoff spot get a little prickly.   Darcy Kuemper started to look like a kid again and the Wild looked like a second class team against Boston on Monday night.  On the plus side, they did manage to beat the Rangers (2-1, of course) and color analyst/wind bag Mike Greenlay got hit in the face with a stick while commentating between the benches during a game. Though that turned out to be a net loss as well, as he kept on talking, and likely hasn’t stopped since.

Mike Yeo decided to go to the oldest coaching trick in the book and played the old line shuffle game against the Islanders. Six goals later, he may have stumbled upon something. The changes Yeo made:

-placing Justin Fontaine on a line with Mikko Koivu. After trying Dany Heatley, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter in this spot, Yeo may have found the perfect place for Fontaine, whose speed and deft touch around the net were on display in a two point (and a crossbar) evening.

-Moving Charlie Coyle back to center. Coyle belongs in the middle, where his work-ethic can cover more ice. The grab bag line of Heatley, Coyle and Nieddereiter was threatening and created chances (Nieddereiter and Heatley set up Spurgeon’s goal). They may be the rejects of the top-6 forward pile for now, but placing them together might give the Wild three semi-legitimate scoring lines. As a team that isn’t overly physical, they’ll need that in any playoff matchup to make sure that opponents can’t key in on Parise, Granlund and Pominville. Speaking of which…

-Not breaking up the top line. Yeo resisted the temptation to get carried away and split up the aforementioned trio. Good move not to, as they were dominant on Tuesday.

-Scratching Erik Haula to put McCormick, Cooke and Brodziak together. Call it the “utility” line. The first time all season the Wild have put three players on the ice whose primary attribute is physicality. With three scoring lines above them, these three make a nice, grinding change of pace. Nothing against Haula, who has shown well this season, but he’s a speed guy, and this trio gave the Wild some bite.

Of course, it was just one game against at flagging Islanders team, but it serves as a good testing ground before stiffer competition. The Wild will have one more game on Thursday against New Jersey before they can take their latest “new” look into battle against another playoff caliber team in a home and home with Detroit this weekend.

We can only hope it wasn’t a one-game wonder.

 

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