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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Mike Yeo explains the Wild's potential new lines and more

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild news, Wild player moves, Wild practice Updated: October 30, 2013 - 1:43 PM

Again, the news of the day:

-- Judging by today’s potential lines for Friday’s game against Montreal, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu will be split for the first time under coach Mike Yeo. This is an attempt to get more 5-on-5 scoring throughout the lineup and create three scoring lines. Parise and Koivu have each registered four even-strength points in 13 games.

-- Charlie Coyle will return Friday after missing 11 games from a sprained knee.

-- Keith Ballard will likely return Friday

-- Jonas Brodin practiced today and is questionable Friday. The Wild doesn’t want to put him in a bad spot with his broken cheekbone. He says he felt good today, so we will find out Thursday if he’s back on his regular pair with Ryan Suter. Today he skated with Matt Dumba, who will be a healthy scratch Friday. Brodin is sporting a full face shield as opposed to the cage. He didn’t like the cage. His face is looking better than it was when originally clocked by that puck.

-- No goalie decision for Friday, but if Josh Harding is healthy, it’d be surprising if he doesn’t return to the cage (eight goals in nine games vs. Niklas Backstrom’s 3.42 goals-against average and .871 save percentage in six appearances.

-- Stephane Veilleux is on waivers and will be assigned to Iowa if he clears Thursday.

-- Dany Heatley and Justin Fontaine were rotating in and out of the Parise-Coyle line today and the fourth line. Just the fact that Heatley’s in conversation for the fourth line is glaring.

-- Just an fyi: Rachel Blount will be covering the Wild for us Thursday, Friday vs. Montreal, Saturday and Sunday morning. I'm in a wedding out of town and will return to cover Zach Parise's first game against New Jersey on Sunday.

-- If you didn't get to read, here's my fun profile on Zenon Konopka and his wine label/bunny rabbit. Good pics, too.

Here are the lines and D pairs again. The big thing is the Wild’s not going with the conventional top-3 lines. Koivu is not on the "third line" if I didn’t make that clear on original blog. The Koivu/Coyle lines should be 1/2 or 2/1 in ice time still. The way things have gone all season, Koivu's and Kyle Brodziak's lines always lead in ice time. The "second line" centered by Mikael Granlund is usually third in ice time.


Nino Niederreiter-Koivu-Brodziak

Matt Cooke-Granlund-Jason Pominville

Fontaine/Heatley-Zenon Konopka-Torrey Mitchell

Mike Rupp is being rotated into line rushes every other rotation.

Defense pairs are

Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Marco Scandella-Nate Prosser

Clayton Stoner-Ballard


I'll be interested to see how the heck Yeo works the power plays, particularly after they expire. If he goes with the first/second units the way they've been, he's got forwards sprinkled from every line on both units.

Here is Mike Yeo:

New lines: Potential line combinations. Try some stuff out. See how it works.

Parise/Koivu: We’re trying some stuff. We know that those guys are very good together and dangerous together. We want to see if they can click with some other guys and strengthen our whole group. Obviously both guys are great players and both guys are threats any time they’re on the ice no matter who they’re with.

Needed Coyle back to make move?: It’s not like we’ve been sitting here waiting to make that move. We’ve been real happy with both guys. With Charlie here, there’s more guys in play. We’re looking at 5-on-5 production and how can we have at least three lines that are a real threat to score. That was the basis for what you saw today

Heatley/Fontaine, how will you decide who's up with Coyle line, who's down with Konopla line: Who’s playing the best? It’s pretty much that simple and that’s the same for everybody. We’ve got more competition, more guys, another healthy guy that we feel is a threat to contribute on the offensive side of things and that gives us the freedom to shuffle things a little bit more.

Start with dany there?: I don’t know.

Mikko: Part of the idea of switching them too is those guys, we’re playing against Chicago, who are they going to throw on the ice against them? They’re going to get their top matchup, they’re going to get Toews, who’s one of the top defensive guys in the league. With Charlie out the way we’ve had our lines, it’s been a little easy for teams to match up against us. There’s a big difference in this league playing against top defensive pairings, playing against top defensive forwards. Now we’d like to think that we’re spread a little bit more where you might have to pick your poison.

Mikko: He can easily have five or six more points right now. He’s been doing a lot of great things. This is not by any means an indication that we’re not happy with him or his game and likewise for anybody through the lineup. This is something that we all said right from the beginning of the year, right, that we wanted to see more line combinations, so let’s not turn it into that just because we’re trying a new line that we’re not happy with the way things are going.

Nino/Cooke?: I think if you look at every line right now the way we’ve got it, we’ve got skill on each line, we’ve got a big body, we’ve got a guy that should get to the net. We’ve got a little bit of everything on every line. If we’re going to make a switch with Mikko – not to say that Cookie is not a skill guy, but Nino is a guy that should be a top offensive threat. He’s a guy with hands, … with a shot, … can skate, handle the puck, is strong on the puck. When we’re looking at Mikko, we’re trying to really identify what he needs to be successful because again, he’s still going to be playing against the best players out there and he needs to have the right pieces around him.

Brodin regular pair tomorrow? We’ll see, we’ll see. We have a lot of healthy defensemen and we want to make sure that when we get him back, we get him back for good. I don’t want to put him in a bad spot. He looked good today and that’s a good first step and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Ballard? He looked good. I’d be surprised if he’s not ready to go by Friday.

Granlund/Brodziak? One thing with Charlie being out is we saw Granny emerge a little bit. We kind of only slotted one position available between him and Charlie at the start of the year, but the way that he’s been going lately, he’s proven that he can be a dangerous guy playing at the center-ice position because of his speed, … the way that he distributes the puck, … the way he’s been able to carry the puck and make plays through the middle of the ice. We want to give a chance to continue to develop that. Again, it’s probably going to be fluid for a little while here. I hope that these lines stay together for the next month, but I’m not sure that that’s going to happen. We’ve got moving pieces. We’ve got a guy like Brodzy who can move back to center, guys like Charlie and Granny who can both move to wing and guys like Zach who can still play with Mikko or Pommer and likewise. To sit here and say these is going to be our lines for the long-term, we’re trying something. We’ll see how it goes.

What’s it say that heatley’s even an option for the fourth line? I don’t even want to turn it into a story. We’ve got a lot of good players and you know what, he’s also an option for a very good line. This is not about individual players right now. We think on every line we’re going to have a good mix of skill and guys who are going to be hard around the net and guys that should be able to complement each other.

Dumba? No decision right now. If he played his best game, we were not going to overreact one way and if he played his worst game, we were going to overreact one way. We were just going to judge this as a whole and we’ll keep going day-by-day and see what happens.

Fair to say Dumba scratched Friday? Yeah.

Practice Schedule? This is good for us. … We haven’t had the quality practice time in the last couple weeks and that’s big for our group, for how we play the game, but also for individuals feeling good going into every game. You saw we had a hard practice today. It was good tempo, guys were skating, guys were making plays, but there was certainly a focus on making sure that guys were leaving the ice tired today.

Goalie decision? No


Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Detroit 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Seattle 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 2:30 PM
Memphis 3:30 PM
Boston 5:00 PM
Detroit 5:00 PM
LA Lakers 5:00 PM
Philadelphia 5:00 PM
Phoenix 5:00 PM
Indiana 6:00 PM
New Orleans 6:00 PM
Oklahoma City
Colorado 5:00 PM
Dallas 5:00 PM
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
Harvard 11:00 AM
Maine 12:00 PM
Ferris State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
San Francisco 12:00 PM
Cleveland State
Oregon State 12:00 PM
Coastal Carolina 12:30 PM
Central Arkansas
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
Southern Miss 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
Creighton 1:00 PM
North Texas
Maryland 1:00 PM
Oklahoma State
Cornell 1:00 PM
Vermont 1:00 PM
Saint Louis
Loyola-Maryland 1:00 PM
Stony Brook
Reinhardt 1:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock 1:00 PM
Green Bay
TX-Pan American 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Alabama State 1:05 PM
FIU 1:30 PM
Goshen 1:35 PM
Bryant 2:00 PM
Austin Peay 2:00 PM
Tennessee St 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
South Dakota 2:00 PM
ULM 2:00 PM
Coker 2:30 PM
South Carolina
USC 3:00 PM
Boston College
Northern Ariz 3:00 PM
SD Christian 3:00 PM
San Diego
UC Irvine 3:30 PM
Troy 3:30 PM
Seton Hall 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 5:30 PM
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Kent State
San Jose St 6:00 PM
Washington St
Alcorn State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Sacramento St 9:00 PM
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Cal-Irvine 11:00 AM
St Marys-CA 11:00 AM
George Washington
TX-San Antonio 11:00 AM
Portland State 11:00 AM
Tenn Tech 11:00 AM
Morgan State
SMU 11:00 AM
Quinnipiac 11:00 AM
Hofstra 11:00 AM
Boston College
Eastern Washington 11:00 AM
Georgia Southern
Rhode Island 12:00 PM
Liberty 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Long Island
Bucknell 12:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Stony Brook 12:00 PM
FIU 12:00 PM
Duquesne 12:00 PM
Maine 12:00 PM
William & Mary
Alabama State 12:00 PM
TX-Pan American 12:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
South Dakota St 12:00 PM
Saint Josephs 12:00 PM
(5) Notre Dame
Radford 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(3) Texas 12:30 PM
(4) Texas A&M
South Florida 1:00 PM
Penn State
Sam Houston St 1:00 PM
Evansville 1:00 PM
(14) Maryland 1:00 PM
Coppin State
Mercer 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
NC A&T 1:00 PM
Princeton 1:00 PM
Eastern Illinois 1:00 PM
Rider 1:00 PM
SC State 1:00 PM
Fairfield 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Richmond 1:00 PM
Eastern Kentucky
Cleveland State 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Kent State 1:00 PM
South Alabama 1:00 PM
Saint Peters 1:00 PM
Youngstown St 1:00 PM
NJIT 1:00 PM
Davidson 1:00 PM
Indiana State 1:30 PM
St Johns
Southern U 1:30 PM
Wright State 1:30 PM
(19) Oklahoma St 2:00 PM
Houston 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
Ark-Little Rock 2:00 PM
Dayton 2:00 PM
Northern Ariz 2:00 PM
New Mexico
UNC-Asheville 2:00 PM
USC Upstate
North Dakota 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Western Ill 2:00 PM
Elon 2:00 PM
(6) North Carolina
Ball State 2:00 PM
Western Ky
(8) Kentucky 2:00 PM
(13) Duke
New Orleans 2:00 PM
Chicago State 2:00 PM
Bowling Green 2:00 PM
Ill-Springfield 2:00 PM
SE Missouri St
Northern Ill 2:00 PM
Northern Iowa
(23) Iowa 2:05 PM
Central Michigan 2:30 PM
Western Carolina 2:30 PM
North Florida
Wyoming 3:00 PM
Portland 3:00 PM
Boise State
Cal Poly 3:00 PM
Colorado State
No Dakota State 3:00 PM
Grand Canyon
Albany 3:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Oklahoma 3:00 PM
Idaho State 3:00 PM
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(19) Syracuse
Northwestern 3:30 PM
Arizona State
TX-Arlington 3:30 PM
North Texas
Fresno State 4:00 PM
St Francis-PA 4:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
UNLV 4:00 PM
UCLA 4:00 PM
(2) Connecticut
(10) Louisville 4:00 PM
(24) California
Howard 5:00 PM
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
(21) Miss State
Illinois-Chicago 8:30 PM
Old Dominion
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