The Wild will start the second half of its season Saturday afternoon vs. the Jets at Xcel Energy Center with a new look to its lineup.
After suffering back-to-back losses to close out the first half in which the Wild scored just once each game, the team made a few changes at practice Friday as it prepared for a weekend back-to-back that continues Sunday evening against the Flames.
Jordan Greenway was promoted to the top line, Ryan Donato moved to the fourth line and Marcus Foligno joined the third line.
“You’re trying to find who’s the best fit, quite frankly, for [Eric] Staal and [Mats] Zuccarello without really changing all the other lines is the initial thought,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I just thought Greenway, before he got concussed, was really good on that line, and he played with them last year. So, [I’m] hoping we can find some chemistry there.
“… I think Marcus can fit in well; he played with [Joel Eriksson] Ek all last year, and you got … sort of an offensive line in [Victor] Rask, Donato and [Ryan] Hartman. So change a little bit of the team but I think [they're] good fits. What can I say? We try it and if it doesn’t work, we change it.”
The defense was also switched up, with Matt Dumba rejoining Jonas Brodin on the second pairing and Carson Soucy going back with Brad Hunt on the third. The team also recalled defenseman Louie Belpedio from the American Hockey League before the game. After assigning Nick Seeler to Iowa Friday for a conditioning stint, the Wild had just six healthy defensemen.
“We haven’t scored in the last two games. I’m sure that gets back to it,” Boudreau said. “But it gets back to it when you’re structurally sound.”
Jordan Greenway-Eric Staal-Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Kevin Fiala
Marcus Foligno-Joel Eriksson Ek-Luke Kunin
Ryan Donato-Victor Rask-Ryan Hartman
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy-Brad Hunt
0: Wins in two games vs. the Jets this season.
6: Points for Jets winger Patrik Laine in those matchups.
2-1-1: Record for the Wild in the first half of a back-to-back.
2-2: Showing for goalie Devan Dubnyk in his last four starts.
498: Career assists for captain Mikko Koivu.
About the Jets:
This is also the start of the second half of the season for Winnipeg, which also closed out the first half with a loss to Toronto (6-3). Still, the Jets are four points ahead of the Wild and currently sit in the first wild card position in the Western Conference. Winger Kyle Connor has seven goals in his past five games. His 21 goals overall lead the Jets, while center Mark Scheifele has a team-high 46 points. Laine is tied for second on the team with 40 points.