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Koivu returns tonight; Kassian out

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • March 22, 2012 - 11:47 AM

The Wild hosts the Calgary Flames tonight and is in search of its first win streak in a month.

Minnesota beat Boston and Florida on Feb. 19 and 23. The time before that was Jan. 21 and 24. I smell a trend.

Mikko Koivu will return from a shoulder injury tonight and return to his normal spot between Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi. Heatley's been cold with one goal in the past 16 games and no points in the past eight. Coach Mike Yeo says reuniting Heatley with Koivu should give Heatley an "automatic jump and lift."

It also will lower Kyle Brodziak's workload, which could help. "He's played high minutes and he plays a hard game," Yeo said. Brodziak will go back to a line he has centered before with Darroll Powe and Nick Johnson.

Erik Christensen will move from center to wing and play with Matt Cullen and Cal Clutterbuck. Christensen has scored in three of the past four games (four goals). I asked Yeo if he's hesitant to change the soaring Christensen's position.

"He's been scoring goals in the offensive zone, so I don't think that's going to affect him a whole lot," Yeo said. "From outside of our blue line, roles and responsibilities don't change too much. It's always F1 on the forecheck, F2 and F3. It's not center, left wing or right wing. And same thing in the offensive zone. Where it's a little more strict is in the defensive zone. So I don't think it's going to inhibit him in any way."

Matt Kassian will miss tonight's game with a groin injury, but he hasn't been ruled out for the upcoming two-game trip to Buffalo and Washington.

Tonight will be equipment manager's 1,500th NHL game. If you know DaCosta, he's a popular fixture and important piece of the Wild locker room. When you're around a hockey team everyday like I am, you catch on very quickly that equipment and medical trainers are essentially teammates to the players. And DaCosta and medical trainer Don Fuller are the only two in the Wild locker room that has been around since Day One.

Players were razzing DaCosta all morning and were wearing 1,500-game T-shirts. I'll have more on that in tomorrow's paper.

Talk to you after the game.

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