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Wild coach Yeo splits up Parise-Koivu-Heatley line

Feb 6, 2013, 2:39 PM EST

MinnesotaWild

Wednesday was a double-edged sword kind of day for Mike Yeo.

The Minnesota head coach decided to split up his top line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley — a move designed to balance out his forward units, but a potentially dangerous one given, you know, that line is the only one producing.

Rookie Charlie Coyle has been promoted to play right wing alongside Parise and Koivu while Heatley has been dropped to the second line with center Matt Cullen and left wing Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

“I think he’ll fit in really well with us,” Parise said of Coyle. “And you get Butch with Heatley, he should be a good setup man for Heater.”

Heatley has been the weak link of the top line for the last few contests — one goal and eight shots in his last six games — so it’s not surprising Yeo decided to move him. Parise’s been on fire (6G-4A-10PTS) and Koivu’s nearly a point-a-game player (2G-6A-8PTS), meaning they’ll stay put.

Heatley said he’s not worried about the “demotion” and is looking forward to playing with Cullen and Bouchard.

“I don’t feel like I’m fighting it,” he explained. “I’m playing with two real creative guys, so hopefully we can get something done.”

However this shakes out, it’s clear Yeo needs to do something to get some production outside of his big three.

The Wild’s fourth- and fifth-leading scorers are defensemen (Tom Gilbert, Ryan Suter) while Cullen, Mikael Granlund, Cal Clutterbuck, Devin Setoguchi and Torrey Mitchell have combined to score just three goals thus far.

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  1. thecheeman - Feb 6, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    “…and let’s say that Mikey decided to do this” – Coach Zach concluding the previous day’s players only meeting.

  2. illogic87 - Feb 6, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    This has Parise written all over it but im totally okay with that, hes a beast and the true captain of our team

  3. hagigun - Feb 6, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    This helps some, but is still not the correct answer. You have to separate Koivu and Parise. If you know anything about Koivu, it’s that he will get you AVG production no matter who he is with. Parise is the one making that line click. Parise would be doing it with or without Koivu. They would be much better served fronting and leading their own lines. Parise can take 2 dudes and make it a top line production wise. Mikko can take 2 dudes and make it a formidable second line.

    Split those two up and you will see better results all around and some balanced scoring. We have to jump start some guys, so get them with the top talent.

    Parise – Brodziak – Coyle
    Heatley – Koivu – Setoguchi
    PMB – Cullen – Mitchell
    Clutter-Rupp-Granny Panties/Kassian

    We really should be bringing up Johan Larsson, someone who can play on the 4th line with grit but also some great skill and a winning mentality. Granny Panties needs to head back to Houston. He is not NHL material at this point. Until he feels untouchable at the AHL level, he won’t help us much in the NHL.

    • lordfletcher - Feb 6, 2013 at 3:32 PM

      as much as I agree with your Koivu comments, it’s hard to split up Koivu and Parise as of yet, if ever… Simply because we all think (know) Heatley has been the weak link on the top line. Heater can be great on the PP #1 but is too slow to be matched up with Parise… Koivu is the best #2 center in the league, whom we have as our #1 and will for another 5 years or so…. ugh.

      Even if I did 100% agree with your comment on Koivu moving to play with whomever, we don’t have a better option for a #1 center, especially not Brodziak. Brodz isn’t scoring against 3rd and 4th lines, you can’t assume his production will increase being on the top line. Last season was and will be his career year…. This teams only weakness for projected long term GREAT success is a true #1 scoring center…. would love to see Fletcher make a franchise trade for john Tavares. Future 3 1st round picks, Zack Phillips, Johan Larsson (anything and everything, including the kitchen sink)

      • blurwild - Feb 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

        The Tavares idea is fantasy-hockey / videogame-GMing at it’s best…

        No one in their right mind would gamble a franchise’s entire future on one single player in this concussion-era NHL.

    • letsgopens8771 - Feb 6, 2013 at 3:36 PM

      I like the line combos a lot for them. I haven’t seen enough of Coyle, so I cannot give you my opinion there. I really like that 2nd line. It would be very formidable for most defenses. Even if Coyle doesn’t pan out, the Wild are deep enough to substitute people into the lineup like Kassian, Konopka (What happened to him?), Dowell (Who I thought would be a starter already), Rau, and MacMillan.

      Oh and I do agree with your opinion of Granlund. He is fun to watch offensively, but he hasn’t really found his scoring touch and most of all, he does not back check or play defense and that’s a problem.

      At first, I disagreed with this switch by Yeo, but I think it will work out eventually.

    • rsmaggiemae - Feb 7, 2013 at 2:23 AM

      I am a hockey finatic, have season tickets to the Gophers mens and womens games, high school and the Wild. Can anybody explain to me why in the 2010 draft the wild picked Granlund over Bjustad????? Look at the difference in size.. and now the Wild need larger guys up front…., I am glad they busted up the first line and put Coyle in as in my opiniom,Heatly does not do much at all, Bouchard will be gone after this season at 5.4 mil a year, Cullen is getting old and with Heatlys 7.1 mil a year can the Wild afford him with the new cap??? I dont think so……Bjustad could play in the NHL this year, but he was drafted by Fla…. I was so angry about this draft, granted Granlund is good, but he is not big enough and he gets pushed around. There is no consistancy in the game, no tape to tape passing,there is no one standing in front of the net on a rush, no one comes in on either wing side to get a rebound, some of the guys are afraid of getting hit, like Bouchard… and Brodziak has done nothing at all so far… I am to the point of bringing up Zucker and Larrson and let the young guys play get experience… if we are going to lose games what difference does it make at least they seem to give it thier all in the game and want to win as I it seems that some of the players dont have any get go anymore. I like Brodin, he is playing very good and Suter is just too worried on the ice, but then he does not get much help out on the ice either, he should be kept on the line with Brodin… I think that will help Suter out….
      I knew that siging the two big guys in July was a huge help to this team, but we dont have much depth on any of the other lines. If we cant score more than 2 goals a game, and most of them scored by Parise and Koivu what is going on?????
      I could only wish that the Wild would somehow trade to get Bjustad from Fla and then he could play on the line with Haula
      They both are terrific together on the Gophers first line.
      Sometimes I just dont understand the scouting of the Wild and what they look for.
      Anyone can sense that to make it in the NHL you have to have size….
      yes, some smaller players are very good, but look who is around them, larger players to protect them and able them to make the plays
      I remember seeing JP Parise, Goldsworthy and Drouin on the first line for the NStars.
      Maybe the team should watch the greatest team ever the 71 HAbs and how they played as a team and not individuals…. they knew exactly what each players moves on the ice would be… I know some of you will disagree with me, but this is how I feel, and I am getting frustrated paying big bucks for the Wild games and not getting much back

      • lordfletcher - Feb 7, 2013 at 9:40 AM

        I’ll be honest, I stopped reading after this, “Granlund over Bjustad?????” …. You can’t blame Fletcher and co. for taking the guy they wanted over a bigger skater. Bjustad isn’t anything special and I am a huge Gopher fan as well. Bjustad if played with fire, could be a huge impact player but the dude is a ghost every other night. Granlund has skill, stupid amounts of it and can become a great player in the league. His learning curve may be a bit higher than Bjustad’s seeing as he hasn’t played north American hockey his whole life. Give the kid 3 years before we point the finger, especially when comparing him to another prospect who hasn’t proven anything at all….. If Fletcher didn’t pick his guy in Granlund, he would have never picked his guy in Brodin as well… how did that work out :) Brodin is a God!!!!!

        give it time amigo

  4. rebekah319 - Feb 6, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    You have to make changes to see what works! You do not split Zach and Mikko up they have recreated good chemistry together. Heatley is the speedy up front so its nice to have Coyle there for now. Giving the rookie a chance is a good thing. Plus its not like Heatley got the shaft with bad linemates.

  5. pone27 - Feb 6, 2013 at 4:46 PM

    This is where Minnesota will suffer with giving Parise and Suter those monster contracts.

    Yeo is going to have to figure out ways to use depth guys within the top 6, something that is not an easy task to do.

    I would put Bouchard with Seto and Parise, Pop Koivu with Heatley and Coyle and see how that pans out.

    Its really going to be a case of Yeo having to mix and match all these guys to see who can mesh. Its a process

    • ThatGuy - Feb 6, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      So you want three wings on a line? I’m sure that will work.

  6. hagigun - Feb 6, 2013 at 5:29 PM

    My issue is you are not “Spreading the wealth” if you just ditch the weak link (Heatley) off of line #1. So if the objective is to break up the top line to get other lines going, why break it up and send the under-performing pieces to other lines? In that regard you didn’t break up the line to spread scoring as much as you tried to IMPROVE line #1. That isn’t the goal we should be striving for right now.

    I feel like the Wild are thinking about this backwards. Any Wild fan knows we have more depth NOW, than we ever have at forward. I am not saying it’s as good as other teams depth, but it’s the best WE have had. Our strength should be in rolling 4 lines at you. 3 of which I feel could all be equally good offensively and defensively, similar to what St.Louis does. They just keep coming.

    By stacking Parise and Koivu on line #1, you limit what other lines can do by using your 2 best forwards together. It’s still stacking the deck whether Heatley is there or not. By re-arranging Heaters, you are not doing a whole lot except putting Coyle in a better position to succeed, Heatley in slightly less a position to succeed.

    Koivu and Parise can each make a line “GO” on their own and until they are separated, I just do not think we will see sustained success from multiple lines. Parise would be scoring with or without Koivu. He is driving that line right now and will do just fine without him.

    • getadealdonealready - Feb 7, 2013 at 11:40 AM

      The hard part is the reason they got a player like Parise is pair with Mikko, this team has lacked a legitimate top end line for it’s entire existence. You may think one player lines are good because that is what you have been conditioned to cheer for watching this team. However to have a true championship quality team you have to have a dominant line that can score 5 on 5, and on PP (which has been brutal if you take out the first game).

      My issue revolves not around the top line, but the defense played by the other 3 lines. I heard in the shortened training camp that they were going to run a box and 1 in the D zone. I have been curious to see how that was going to work, as not many teams play that system above Squirt hockey. IMO this teams breakdowns have been in the defensive end, and they are not running this system very well, not even bringing up if this system is one that can be successful at this level. In past seasons they have wanted a North/South offense, and that doesn’t seem to mesh with the defensive philosophies of the box and 1.

  7. sectualvanilla - Feb 6, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    @hagigun……At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you remotely close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone of us is now that much dumber for having to read that comment…..I award you no points and may god have mercy on your soul.

  8. getadealdonealready - Feb 6, 2013 at 10:50 PM

    I was wondering when this would come. Outside of the first couple games Heater just can’t seem to find open ice on this line, and while he is typically good in front of the net, hasn’t converted on his chances. It will be interesting to see how the rookie does on that line. Game 1 was a good one, and Brodin looks solid with Suter this team could be getting real young real quick if they can’t turn this around.

  9. woodstakes - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Well, I stated this in an earlier article that the only change that needs to be made on the 1st line was moving Heater down a line and possibly moving Coyle up (my ideology behind it was at least Coyle can skate with Mikko and Parise, because Heater is just to sloooow).

    Personally I like the idea of having Heater move down and play it Heater-Cullen/Brods-Seto. I know for much of last year it was played like that due to all the injuries as a 1st line combo. Now at no point were they anything more than mediocre as a 1st line but they could be pretty good 2nd line. Plus, I think they had some chemistry together and they should be able to get that back relatively quickly and they wouldn’t have the skill level of 1st liners vs them and not the pressure to score like they did last year.

    As for the rest of the lines, I wouldn’t mine seeing PMB-Cullen/Brods-Grandlund and Clutterbuck-Rupp/Kenopka-Mitchell as a fourth. If Grandlund doesn’t start showing signs of improvement move him back down and move up Mitchell, or move him back to Houston and bring up Zucker. If he is showing improvement and Seto is still stalemate then change those 2 around. Maybe bring up Zucker and healthy scratch Seto/Grandlund for few games and see if that lights a fire out of them.

    Nothing brings good things out of players like competition and of course the good ole contract year!

  10. woodstakes - Feb 7, 2013 at 1:00 AM

    Well, I stated this in an earlier article that the only change that needs to be made on the 1st line was moving Heater down a line and possibly moving Coyle up (my ideology behind it was at least Coyle can skate with Mikko and Parise, because Heater is just to sloooow).

    Personally I like the idea of having Heater move down and play it Heater-Cullen/Brods-Seto. I know for much of last year it was played like that due to all the injuries as a 1st line combo. Now at no point were they anything more than mediocre as a 1st line but they could be pretty good 2nd line. Plus, I think they had some chemistry together and they should be able to get that back relatively quickly and they wouldn’t have the skill level of 1st liners vs them and not the pressure to score like they did last year.

    As for the rest of the lines, I wouldn’t mind seeing PMB-Cullen/Brods-Grandlund and Clutterbuck-Rupp/Kenopka-Mitchell as a fourth. If Grandlund doesn’t start showing signs of improvement move him back down and move up Mitchell, or move him back to Houston and bring up Zucker. If he is showing improvement and Seto is still stalemate then change those 2 around. Maybe bring up Zucker and healthy scratch Seto/Grandlund for few games and see if that lights a fire out of them.

    Nothing brings good things out of players like competition and of course the good ole contract year!

  11. lostpuppysyndrome - Feb 7, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    I’m curious as to why everyone seems to be hitting the panic button already. Hockey fans from around the league mock the team as if we expected them to become a Cup contender this year, and casual Wild fans who started watching because we picked up Sutarise are now wondering what the big deal is. Seriously, folks, this team has talent and potential up the wazoo, but no one paying close attention thought they would be a real threat for 3-5 years. Parise and Suter are obviously fantastic additions to the team but this is hockey, not basketball. RARELY does it ever happen where one or two players were the missing key to greatness, unless your name is Goring. We’re nine friggin’ games into the season, we have a bunch of new players, and we’re (mostly) healthy for the first time in ages. HAVE SOME PATIENCE.

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