New Minnesota Wild Line Combinations Here to Stay
The Minnesota Wild are not good right now, especially at the start of games. Dean Evason’s been beating his head against the microphone at press conferences. It’s the same story every time. He wants more old school hockey, especially as forecheck turnovers continue to mount.
The defense and lackluster goaltending are another issue that we do not have time to get into. It’s possible that Jared Spurgeon returns to the lineup on Saturday vs the New York Rangers and that would certainly be a welcomed boost. But for the sake of this blog, which is not going to be 2000 words long, we’ll stick to the Wild’s plethora of offensive issues.
Dean Evason channeling inner Jacques Lemaire
Play north/south, dump/chase hockey and take better care of the puck. I’ve heard he’s having a Jacques Lemaire statue in the locker room at the TRIA Orthopedics practice facility. But, his message is not getting through and the Wild have now lost 4 straight games.
“It’s not brain-dead hockey or mindless hockey to get it past the pressure or get after it and go get it. It’s part of the game. It’s been part of the game for forever. It’s going to be part of the game. It’s part of our game and if you don’t give yourself a chance to do that, then you don’t get your pace. You don’t get going. You don’t put teams on their heels and consequently, we’re defending, defending, defending and it’s not good, not a good recipe.”Dean Evason after Devils loss (quote via The Athletic)
Kaprizov/Rossi/Boldy line debuts vs Devils
After falling behind 3-0 vs the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night, one coaching decisions seemed to help the downward spiral the Wild were falling into.
Evason made a huge changes to Minnesota Wild line combinations in the 2nd period, stacking the top line with the roster’s three most talented young forwards — Kirill Kaprizov, Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy (fresh off injury). Rossi and Kaprizov both scored goals. Boldy assisted on both.
So inquiring minds were wondering, after another loss, if Evason was going to keep these new Minnesota wild line combinations, going forward. On Friday, at practice, we found out the answer, when Kaprizov, Rossi and Boldy spent the entire practice on the same line, both at even-strength and on the power play.
Marco Rossi with Boldy and Kaprizov still. Hartman with Zuccarello and Johansson. Maroon-Ek-Foligno. Then Duhaime-Dewar-Lettieri. #mnwild. Jared Spurgeon practicing. Eligible to come off LTIR tomorrow. Not sure if he will.— Joe Smith (@JoeSmithNHL) November 3, 2023
Changes to the #mnwild power play, too.— Sarah McLellan (@sarah__mclellan) November 3, 2023
First unit: Kaprizov, Rossi, Boldy, Eriksson Ek and Johansson
Second unit: Zuccarello, Hartman, Addison, Maroon/Foligno and Lettieri
New Minnesota Wild line combinations will stay vs Rangers
That means, those of us calling for Rossi to get more time on top lines, with other skill players like him, are about to be paid off. And let’s hope it works because a few more losses could send this Minnesota Wild season into the gutter far earlier than expected.
After they extended the contracts of veterans like Marcus Foligno, Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Hartman, that would leave Billy Guerin in an interesting spot, heading into the midseason trade deadline.
Jared Spurgeon back vs Rangers?
Jared Spurgeon returned to practice on Friday and he is eligible to return to the Wild’s lineup on Saturday vs the New York Rangers. Whether not that will happen is still up in the air but his presence today at practice makes it all the more plausible.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan