It turns out yesterday’s practice was an indication of tonight’s Minnesota Wild lineup, as Charlie Coyle will skate alongside Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu on the Wild’s top line. Coyle played well in his NHL debut, Monday on the road, against the Phoenix Coyotes. The rookie winger spoke to WildTV about making his home debut.
Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo told the media after today’s morning skate that he likes how they are replacing a big body with another big body on the top line. He added that he likes Coyle’s skill set and as a net-front presence.
The mixup will hopefully jumpstart the Wild’s second line, as Dany Heatley joins Matt Cullen and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Yeo acknowledged the need to find balanced scoring in the lineup and likes the prospect of moving Heatley alongside of two creative pass-first forwards.
Staying the same from the Wild’s last outing will be the line of Torrey Mitchell, Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak. Mitchell might’ve played his best game against Phoenix and Yeo liked the way that the line looked.
Newly acquired Mike Rupp will make his Wild debut on the fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Devin Setoguchi. The 6-foot-5 Rupp is the type of know-your-role player who is a physical presence on the ice. Rupp spoke to WildTV about debuting with the Wild in the State of Hockey.
Rookie Mikael Granlund will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Yeo said that it is “a learning process” for the rookie forward and they talked about how he needed to play day in and day out. Granlund was moved to the fourth line against the Phoenix Coyotes and responded well, but Yeo said that other players had a “little more in the bank” in terms of their careers, and is a reason he’ll sit tonight. Matt Kassian and Nate Prosser also will be healthy scratches. Jared Spurgeon is still on Injured Reserve with a lower body injury.
The Wild’s D-pairs will remain the same.
Minnesota will start Niklas Backstrom in net for the third-straight game. He is he is 11-12-6 with a 2.63 goals against average, a .908 save percentage and one shutout in 30 games (28 starts) lifetime against Vancouver.
In other State of Hockey news, the Minnesota Minute Men announced the Top Ten Candidates for the 29th Annual Mr. Hockey Award. They are Grant Besse (Benilde-St. Margaret’s School), Jake Bischoff (Grand Rapids High School), Zach Glienke (Eagan High School), Jake Jackson (Tartan High School), Adam Johnson (Hibbing/Chisholm High School), Dan Labosky (Benilde-St. Margaret’s School), Zach Lavalle (Hill-Murray High School), Parker Reno (Edina High School), TJ Roo (Totino-Grace High School) and Tommy Vannelli (Minnetonka High School).
The Minnesota Minute Men also announced today that John Dugas (Hill-Murray High School) and David Zevnik (Saint Thomas Academy) are the finalists for The Frank Brimsek Award, in recognition of the state’s top senior goaltender.