Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Yeo expects big response tonight from Wild

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 20, 2011 - 2:11 PM

After Tuesday's lifeless early effort against Pittsburgh, Wild coach Mike Yeo thought about tinkering with the lineup tonight against the Edmonton Oilers. Instead, the same 18 skaters will play and the same goaltender, Niklas Backstrom, will start.

“Definitely we thought about it, but whether it’s individuals or even as a team, I do like giving guys a chance to respond," Yeo said.

Backstrom gets the nod in an arena he sometimes struggles in. At one point, he was pulled in four of five starts in this arena. But he's played four full games since, going 2-1-1, including a win last year where he surrendered two goals.

Yeo spent a lot of the morning skate having one-on-one meetings with a number of players, including captain Mikko Koivu. He also said that as a team, the Wild's slow starts recently against the Islanders, Senators and Penguins were addressed.

"We’ve already done it. We talked about it. We addressed it. I’m expecting our group to respond with a great effort tonight, … with a great focus on the way we’re supposed to play the game. … If you bring the right battle every game, if you bring the right mindset and focus every game, we believe more often than not we should come out on top.”

Couple adjustments that we may -- or will -- see:

1. We will see this: As Kent mentioned on the blog yesterday, Devin Setoguchi goes to the right wing, Dany Heatley to the left wing of the top line. They had both been playing on their off wings because Heatley has mostly played right wing in his career and is more comfortable there. But Setoguchi is not. Both Setoguchi's goals this year have come on his strong side and he had a tendency of 1) not catching pucks well on the left side, 2) skating east-west, 3) not coming down with speed, 4) forcing pucks to Heatley.

Yeo is trying to correct this. More on this in Friday's paper.

2. We may see some power-play adjustments, although the personnel of the two units will start the same tonight: 1) Heatley-Koivu-Setoguchi with Bouchard-Zidlicky; 2) Latendresse-Cullen-Clutterbuck with Scandella-Spurgeon.

But: "We’re going to start the game right now the way that we have. But we have things in our back pocket that we will look at. I don’t think our ineffectiveness on the power play in recent games is a matter of personnel. It’s more a mindset.”

Yeo said the mindset is a lack of aggressiveness and willingness to shoot.

3. One big reason I think Yeo goes back to the regular lines tonight is because Latendresse, Cullen and Bouchard were awesome here in last month's exhibition opener. Plus, Bouchard usually torches Edmonton in this arena.

Talk to you tonight

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