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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Wild practice: Those new lines? Never mind

Posted by: Rachel Blount under Wild practice Updated: November 2, 2013 - 6:25 PM

If you were watching the Wild's 4-3 victory over Montreal on Friday, you saw coach Mike Yeo eventually abandon those new line combinations that generated so much discussion last week. In the third period, the Wild put Charlie Coyle back on the wing, reunited Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise, and shifted Kyle Brodziak back to center, among other changes.

The lines stayed that way at Saturday's practice and likely will remain the same Sunday against New Jersey. That means Parise-Koivu-Coyle on the top line; Nino Niederreiter-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville on the second; Matt Cooke-Brodziak-Justin Fontaine on the third; and Dany Heatley-Zenon Konopka-Torrey Mitchell on the fourth.

"Part of it was getting guys back into positions that suit their roles and making sure we have some identities to the lines,'' Yeo said. He added that he isn't sure whether he will move Heatley and Fontaine around as he did for much of Friday's game.

Heatley has one empty-net goal and two assists in 14 games. Of his possible move to the fourth line, he said "(Yeo's) the boss'' and added that he will try his best no matter where he is placed.

“It’s always tough mentally, but you’ve just got to keep going,’’ said Heatley, who has 361 career goals and was third on the Wild last season with 11. “History tells you that stretches like this end, and pucks start going into the net again. When you’re not scoring, you start doing things you don’t normally do. You’ve just got to come to the rink every day with a fresh attitude and try to get back to the good habits.’’

No further news on defenseman Matt Dumba, whose three-year contract kicks in when he plays his next game for the Wild. While Yeo acknowledged he doesn't want Dumba on the shelf too long, he feels this is the best place for Dumba's development right now (as opposed to returning him to Red Deer of the WHL).

Sunday will be a big day for Parise, who will play his former team for the first time since he signed with the Wild in the summer of 2012. He said it will be "pretty nerve-wracking.''

RACHEL BLOUNT

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