Wild searching for right chemistry with new additions
Following the Minnesota Wild’s Monday night loss in Boston, coach Mike Yeo talked about changing up the team’s forward lines.
When asked Tuesday what the changes entailed, Yeo was a little more secretive.
"We’ll wait for tonight to let you guys critique them," Yeo said Tuesday morning.
The changes are likely coming because Minnesota has scored 12 goals in six games since the NHL trading deadline. The Wild are 1-2-3 in that span, and have scored one goal in each of the past two games while still trying to find the right chemistry since bringing in forwards Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick at the trade deadline.
The disappointment following Monday night’s 4-1 loss at Boston finally led Yeo to look harder at a set of lines that has included Moulson with Mikko Koivu and either Charlie Coyle or Nino Niederreiter on the second line. McCormick has filled his expected role as fourth-line player.
"Certainly we’re going to look at our lines tonight here," Yeo said after Monday’s loss. "I’m not sure we have exactly the right mix. Whether we change one, two, three lines, I’m not sure. We have to figure this out though because, like I said, it doesn’t have quite the right feel right now."
Yeo is trying to find the right mix and Moulson — a three-time 30-goal scorer — could find himself with new linemates on Tuesday in facing the Islanders, the team he spent parts of five seasons with and became a regular NHL player.
"I definitely would like to mix in some more wins and goals to help this team," Moulson said before Tuesday’s game. "It’s a great bunch of players. It’s easy to that. Myself, it’s been an easy transition. I think it’s just the little things now, figuring, not thinking so much and just playing. I think that comes after playing a couple games though. Hopefully we can get to that.
Moulson had a goal and assists in his first two games with Minnesota but has been without a point the past four games as the second line has been held scoreless.
"The puck hasn’t really bounced for him and pucks haven’t gone in with the numbers that probably he would like," Yeo said of Moulson. "But at the same time, he’s getting chances. He’s always in around the net. He’s an extremely smart player on the offensive side of things."
Meanwhile, the line of Zach Parise, Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville has combined for 37 points in 13 games together, with 14 goals compared to 17 for the rest of the team in that span.
Yeo wouldn’t commit to his new approach for Tuesday’s game, but changes are certainly coming in trying to jumpstart his team’s scoring since the trade deadline.
"We’re still trying to get completely on top of our game," Yeo said before Tuesday’s game, later adding: "We’re going to be willing to do whatever it takes. If (breaking up Parise, Granlund and Pominville is) what it takes, but like I said, I think our first priority has to be to try and maintain what they’ve got going but fix the areas around it."
McCormick has played in five games since the trade, averaging 8 minutes, 18 seconds of ice time on the fourth line. He has no points, but was brought in more to add a physical edge. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, another trade deadline acquisition, has played in one game and allowed two goals in a shootout loss at home to the St. Louis Blues.
Yeo is focused on the offensive issues since the trade deadline though.
"I’d like to put a few more pucks in the net," Yeo said. "It’s hard to win by scoring one goal a night, that’s for sure."
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