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 breaks up top line for the first time

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: February 6, 2013 - 3:17 PM

UPDATED

Wild coach Mike Yeo unveiled new lines at Wednesday's practce.

Dany Heatley, who has no points in his past three games and eight shots in his past six, was taken off the first line and placed on the second with center Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Rookie Charlie Coyle, the man I believe the Wild envisions to eventually be the longtime right wing on the Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu first line, took Heatley's spot on that right wing.

Yeo said these were just lines for practices and no guarantees for Thursday's game against Vancouver, but I certainly suspect that will stick for the game.

Yeo said Coyle looked good with Parise and Koivu but nervous, which he said is understandable for a rookie going into his second NHL game and home debut.

"I think he'll fit in really well with us," said Parise. "And you get Butch with Heatley, he should be a good setup man for Heater."

Heatley said changes are to be expected when the team isn't scoring. Heatley has one goal and eight shots in his past six games.

"I don't feel like I'm fighting it," Heatley said. "I'm playing with two real creative guys, so hopefully we can get something done."

Coyle said he got some funny jabs from Cullen that he was already removed from his line and he has "dreamed of playing at Xcel since I came here" from San Jose.

Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck remain the staple of the third line, but Devin Setoguchi and Mikael Granlund were rotating spots as the other wing. My guess says Granlund is the odd man out.

Torrey Mitchell, despite arguably being the best forward on the ice at Phoenix, was back to the fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Mike Rupp, who will make his Wild debut against the Canucks.

But Yeo said the final lineup hasn't been decided.

Yeo on his expectations for Rupp: "He already met one. He's big. He didn't shrink at all."

Niklas Backstrom will obviously be in goal.

The big question is who tends goal for Vancouver -- Roberto Luongo or Cory Schneider. Luongo has taken the nets for the Canucks lately, but he was pulled in his past three starts at the X and is so bad there, he didn't even make a start in St. Paul last season. However, Luongo overall has shut out the Wild in three consecutive games.

Schneider gets the start.

Said Alain Vigneault: "Can't overthink it. Trust the coin."

Jordan Schroeder plays his first-ever NHL game at the X. He has appeared to found a home. He also got to practice at St. Thomas Academy, where he starred in high school. First collegiate goal at the X with the Gophers: "Hope to make some new memories."

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