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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Pregame: Yeo mixes up Wild's lines

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 19, 2013 - 11:55 AM

With the 3-3-2 Wild looking to finish the road trip on a high tonight against the Florida Panthers, coach Mike Yeo has mixed up his first three lines in today's morning skate.

That's what scoring four goals in three games will do -- and more than two goals twice in eight games this season.

"We need to try to find some offense here. We’ve got to try to get some more balance to our lineup," Yeo said. "It’s a good opportunity for us to face a little adversity early and have to battle through it."

Good day from Florida, where it's hot, humid and beautiful. I'll be on Fox Sports North tonight during the pregame show at 5:30 p.m. and first intermission.

Jason Pominville has been reunited on the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. Yeo said he complements that duo and when they made the switch earlier, it was to provide offense to the second line "and that didn't really help."

There is a brand new second line. Matt Cooke has been moved up and will be centered by Mikael Granlund. Nino Niederreiter will play the right wing. The second line hasn't scored a goal all season for the Wild.

Cooke says he can't change the way he plays the game. Yeo wants two guys that will be hard on the puck and get to the net for Granlund. Yeo wants Granlund also to be more assertive shooting the puck. Yeo is happy with the way Niederreiter's playing, but "I want to see some numbers."

Dany Heatley, off to the worst start in his career with one assist in eight games and the lone mainstay all season on the second line, moves to the third line with Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine. Yeo said Heatley had good chemistry with Fontaine in training camp and Brodziak during parts of the past two seasons.

Heatley's obviously not happy with his start to the season but says he'll continue to work his way out of this. He used to light up the Panthers with Atlanta and was 2003 All-Star Game MVP in this building, so maybe that'll be a good omen for tonight.

Josh Harding, who leads the league with a 1.15 goals-against average, starts. Keith Ballard skated but left again not feeling well. Yeo says the Wild hasn't classified this as a concussion.

Nate Prosser is scratched.

I talked with Tom Gilbert this morning. He now plays for the Panthers and he was professional in talking about how and why the Wild bought him out.

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