After being asked if Mikko Koivu was playing, Head Coach Mike Yeo simply smiled and said, “Yep.”
That grin said it all.
The Wild hopes Koivu’s return will spark line mates Dany Heatley and Devin Setoguchi as Minnesota skates against the Calgary Flames at Xcel Energy Center. But the return of the Wild Captain will have a trickle-down effect that will run throughout the lineup.
The impact Koivu has with Heatley and Setoguchi will be apparent as soon as the puck drops. Before his injury, the trio was playing some of its best hockey of the season together.
However, the second, third and fourth lines should benefit as well.
Matt Cullen will center Cal Clutterbuck and Erik Christensen will move to the wing. If Christensen continues playing the puck with confidence, the speedy Cullen and Clutterbuck should see scoring opportunities. Clutterbuck’s physical play also will create space for his line mates.
The grind line of Kyle Brodziak, Nick Johnson and Darroll Powe will be reunited. Before the Wild was gut punched with injuries, this was an energy line with tremendous chemistry. Now back together, they can concentrate on playing solid defense and get offensive opportunities with a tenacious forecheck and in-zone cycling.
How much Koivu will be able to handle, after missing more than a month of games, remains to be seen, but having him back should create a lot of energy throughout the lineup.
As you can tell by this post, Yeo isn’t the only one excited about tonight’s game. I would say, you should be too, but I already know you are.
Josh Harding will get the nod in net after shutting out the Canucks on Monday.
Matt Kassian missed the morning skate due to a groin injury. The severity of the injury is unknown, but Kassian will be out against the Flames.