PHILADELPHIA – Monday morning, Mike Yeo said he would keep his forward lines a surprise until warmups prior to the Wild’s game against the Flyers.
The surprise was not a good one.
Zach Parise missed the 4-1 loss with what the team called a “lower-body” injury. It was Parise’s second game missed this season. He will be evaluated during the Christmas break and Yeo hopes it’s not serious. Parise, who has 15 goals and 27 points in 37 games, missed a Nov. 27 game against Phoenix with a bruised foot that was expected to sideline him for two to three weeks. It has never healed, evidence by his continued limping off the ice.
It’s believed that’s why he missed Monday’s game.
With Parise out, rookie Justin Fontaine, scratched the previous four games, slid into the lineup and played on the third line with Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley. Matt Cooke moved to Parise’s spot on the Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line.
The moves came after Yeo talked Monday about his hesitancy to break up the inseparable Parise-Koivu tag-team.
The Wild is 6-11-3 on the road. In 19 road games, Parise has three goals and six assists and is minus-9. In 20 road games, Koivu has three goals and nine assists and is minus-9.
During the Wild’s 1-7-1 road slide, Parise has no goals and one assist and is minus-7. Koivu has one goal and one assist and is minus-9.
If it’s possible one reason for the Wild’s road woes is opponents can load up their best defenders against Parise and Koivu, one wonders if Yeo would now split Parise and Koivu with center Mikael Granlund back from a concussion.
“Mikko is a skilled player and needs skilled players with him,” Yeo said. “You look around the league, we’re not the only team to do that. I don’t want to start naming off centermen, but first-line centermen generally are going to play with first-line wingers. Skilled players need to play with skilled players.”
Substance over scoring
Despite the Wild’s lack of scoring, the team called up checker Stephane Veilleux, who has eight points in 20 games with Iowa, no points in 11 games with the Wild this season and 101 in 471 games in his NHL career, and reassigned Erik Haula.
Asked why, Yeo said, “Penalty killer, energy, emotion, physical.”
Yeo wanted to get back to a fourth line with a speed identity that could help regain momentum. Veilleux skated with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell, while Mike Rupp was scratched.
Defenseman Clayton Stoner missed Monday’s game because of a lower-body injury. Nate Prosser, scratched in the previous 13 games, played for the first time since Nov. 25.
“I have to make sure I play with that edge, and right from the drop of the puck, be ready to flip the switch and be a tough guy in front of our net and in the corners,” Prosser said before the game.
• Goalie Josh Harding missed his third game as his treatment for multiple sclerosis is altered. Yeo expects Harding to rejoin the team Friday in Winnipeg and didn’t rule him out starting against the Jets — even though Yeo said Harding hasn’t been on the ice since Dec. 17.
• Defenseman Matt Dumba was not suspended for any portion of the world junior championships for his kneeing major against Sweden in an exhibition game Sunday. The tournament starts Thursday in Sweden.
• NHL teams have mandatory days off, including practices, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.