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After 11-game absence, Coyle returns to Wild lineup tonight (Update: Brodin back too)

Nov 1, 2013, 10:25 AM EST

coylereturnsgetty Getty Images

Charlie Coyle will return from a knee injury tonight from Minnesota, and he’ll do it on a new-look line.

Coyle, who’s played just two games this season, will suit up for the first time in 11 contests on Friday against Montreal, on a unit featuring leading scorer Zach Parise and one of either Justin Fontaine or Dany Heatley.

“The guys are excited and anxious to try it out,’’ head coach Mike Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “But it’s one thing to do it in practice and another to do it in a game.’’

The Wild, who have been erratic offensively this season, are once again shaking things up at forward in the hope of finding the right line combinations (some argue all the line switching prevents building chemistry, but that’s another discussion for another time.)

Mikael Granlund will center Matt Cooke and Jason Pominville, while captain Mikko Koivu will play between Kyle Brodziak and Nino Niederreiter.

Yeo suggested the moves prevent Minnesota from having one true “checking line,” spreading the offense out evenly across all three units. That said, Yeo was adamant his club doesn’t lose any defensive prowess up front with the new look.

“It’s easy to look at what [Granlund] has done offensively in the last little bit, but it started with his defensive game,’’ Yeo said. “There’s no reason why Charlie shouldn’t be very effective at that, too. [He has] a big body, he’s a smart hockey player, he moves well.

“And obviously Mikko [Koivu], we have no concerns about him going against top guys.”

UPDATE

Defenseman Jonas Brodin will be back in tonight as well, after missing the last three games with a broken cheekbone.

  1. guitarhunterdude - Nov 1, 2013 at 10:34 AM

    Niederreiter should be on that top line rather than Fontaine or Heatley.

    • jimmydeedub - Nov 1, 2013 at 12:16 PM

      I think Niederreiter on the third is fine. It gives Koivu a winger with a nasty wrister, and someone who can create space/dish the puck well. You wouldn’t get that with Fontaine (his size is a factor) and certainly not with Heatley.

      Hopefully this change will take pressure off Koivu so he can be a grinder and not worry about scoring quite as much (which has gotten to him even though he won’t admit it).

      I don’t think Heatley plays on the first at all even though he was splitting time there in practice. Maybe just a respect move from the coach to try and keep the geezer engaged until Rupp is back and he rides the pine the rest of the season.

  2. juice1818 - Nov 1, 2013 at 11:20 AM

    Smart moves by Yeo… these line mix-ups seem to give us more depth. I love it!

  3. clarke16 - Nov 1, 2013 at 1:24 PM

    Watch what happens to Heater now… He’ll be motivated to justify the respect, score a couple goals, his confidence will get back where it needs to be…and the Wild could be looking be looking pretty good to go beyond the first series of the playoffs this year… Yeo is showing me something here.

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