NEW YORK – Through most of the Wild’s losses of late, coach Mike Yeo remained married to the Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line.
Still, Parise has no even-strength goals since Jan. 10, Granlund has one empty-net goal in a 32-game stretch and Pominville has one even-strength goal in the past 17 games. The even-strength goals by Parise and Pominville came when they were not together.
Asked why he keeps going back to the line, Yeo said before Thursday’s 4-2 loss to the Rangers, “Not a lot of other options, I guess. We’re trying to go with some familiarity, some semblance of groups that have had success before. They’re generating chances, they just have to put it in and have to stay with it for 60 minutes.”
Yeo has felt that for much of the season, the line often starts well and then gets away from its game because of frustration if not rewarded.
The Wild likes Parise alongside Granlund, and the feeling is mutual. With the Nino Niederreiter-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle line generating points, Yeo’s lack of “options” likely has to do with the recent play of Thomas Vanek and Jason Zucker.
Tuesday, Yeo did switch Pominville and Vanek late in the second period. On the first shift afterward, Pominville scored alongside Zucker and Jarret Stoll. But less than a minute later, the Islanders retook the lead after poor defensive plays by Vanek and Granlund.
“We’ve tried basically every combination in the book,” Yeo said Thursday morning.
“Last game we shuffled lines, and the game before that we shuffled lines. We’ve tried every combination and none of them have worked, and they’re not going to work until we’re all playing at [a better level].
“When we’re playing at a level where every individual is going to go out there and is strong in their game both offensively and defensively, then we can make switches and they’re going to look right. And right now, whatever we try is not working.”
In his first game not wearing protection over an injured left thumb, Ryan Carter coincidentally broke a finger on his right hand Jan. 10 against New Jersey, a 2-1 loss. It occurred in a fight with Jordin Tootoo as Carter tried to spark his flat team.
“I was just trying to get something going and get some energy in the building,” Carter said. “There seemed to be a Viking hangover [from a playoff loss to Seattle earlier that day], and it just didn’t go well for me.”
The Wild lost six of seven games Carter missed. He scored the game’s first goal Thursday against the Rangers.
“It was difficult to watch,” said Carter, who returned to the lineup Tuesday. “Being away from all of it, especially with the team on the road, you lose the feel of what’s going on in the locker room.”
Yeo thought seriously about playing defenseman Christian Folin against the Rangers. Instead, he was scratched for the second time since being recalled from Iowa.
Yeo hopes Folin’s time in Iowa helps improve his game the way it did last year for Folin and Matt Dumba.
“I think last year when he came back up after spending some time down there, his game was at another level,” Yeo said of Folin.
“It was not just the confidence he was playing with, but more than anything, the pace he was playing with, executing at a higher level and I’d like to see some more of that.”
Folin recently returned from missing a month because of a concussion.
Justin Fontaine, scratched in three of the past four games and six times since Dec. 28, returned and Chris Porter was scratched.