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Wild changes: Kuemper starts, Brodziak sits, Heatley draws in

Apr 21, 2014, 11:47 AM EDT

Minnesota Wild v Vancouver Canucks Getty Images

Minnesota head coach Mike Yeo is shaking things up for tonight’s crucial Game 3 against Colorado.

Down 2-0 to the Avs, the Wild will make a goalie change as Darcy Kuemper will replace Ilya Bryzgalov after the Russian ‘tender started the first two games in Denver. Kuemper, who missed the last three weeks due to a concussion, returned to action on Saturday when he replaced Bryzgalov and played well, stopping all 14 shots faced in an eventual 4-2 loss.

Tonight will mark Kuemper’s first-ever playoff start, though he did make two previous appearances during last year’s opening-round loss to Chicago.

In other big lineup news, Kyle Brodziak will miss just his second game of the season, sitting as a healthy scratch after two shaky outings to start the series. A lineup fixture throughout the season — he was one of just five Wild skaters to play more than 80 games — Brodziak scored a goal in Game 1 and played nearly 20 minutes, but also finished minus-3 on the night. In Game 2, his ice time was cut to a mere 10:51.

“Down 2-0 in the series, you’re going to make some changes,” Yeo explained.

Brodziak’s demotion paves the way for the return of Dany Heatley, who has yet to play this series. The veteran winger had another down campaign, scoring just 12 goals and 28 points in 76 games, but sounded excited about the opportunity to participate in the playoffs for the first time since 2011 (Heatley was injured for last year’s series against the Blackhawks.)

“You always want to be in there,” Heatley said, per the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “It’s a big game, so I’m excited to get going.”

In another lineup move, veteran Stephane Vellieux will also sit on Monday after playing just six minutes in Saturday’s loss. He’ll be replaced by the more offensive-minded Justin Fontaine, who had 13 goals in 66 games this year for the Wild.

  1. spoon9z - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    Kuemper looks solid and concerns me as an Av fan. Also, as bad as Heatley has played of late, he has a history of netting goals against my team but I hope he outgrew that.

    • getadealdonealready - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:08 PM

      Sorry for the thumbs down, but we are clinging to our last breathe here, so hoping you are wrong about Heatley outgrowing his history of scoring goals against the ave, we’ll take any spark of hope right now.

      Both Bryz and Kuemper had stretches where they looked really good, but both struggled at times, Bryz the last 3 & 1/3 games, Kuemper a handful of games leading up to the upper body injury.

      As a wild fan, hoping we see the dominant/confident Kuemper we saw for stretches this year. If nothing else we have had to ride a wild Goalie Roller Coaster the past 2 years, it would be nice to have some stability and health at the position moving forward.

    • purpleguy - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:23 PM

      Kuemper will be an upgrade, but the Avs will skate around Heatley like he’s an oak tree.

  2. lowenni - Apr 21, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    I can understand starting Kuemper over Bryz, but the Brodziak for Heatley swap is stupid. First of all, they need to shut down the Avs, which requires defense. That’s what Brodziak does. His minus-3 from Game 1 is probably more likely due to the fact that he played 1/3 of a game that they lost. Heatley brings absolutely nothing to the team anymore, is slow (which is the opposite of what the Wild need to counter the Avs), lazy, and a poor influence for the younger Wild members. Stupid, stupid move, even if changes are needed. Yeo’s an awful coach, I don’t care that they’re in the playoffs, that guy’s got to go.

    • tved12 - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:07 PM

      Do you forget that Brodziak gift wrapped the 3rd goal for the Avs in Game 1? He’s been terrible this season. I agree that Heatley may not be the answer, but it’s also a way to light a fire under Brodziak.

      I don’t agree that Yeo is an awful coach, he’s teams overachieve during each 3 seasons he’s been the coach. He’s also seen 2 collapses which have been pretty bad, but he’s hardly been awful.

      • lowenni - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM

        He has not maximized and utilized the extreme amount of skill and quality of players that he has on the team. Moulson, Parise, Koivu, Pominville, Suter, Granlund, not being able to restart Heatley, non-progression of Brodin, etc. You’re right, it’s not like he’s led them to the worst record in the league, so perhaps he’s not AWFUL, but his teams have only been the minimum of what they could be. A guy like Laviolette could be a great fit for the team, and Yeo simply needs to go if the Wild don’t turn this around.

      • 19to77 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        I figure Trotz would be a great match to the Wild roster, but then there’s a lot of teams I think he’d get more out of than their current guy.

    • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:09 PM

      Another ignorant Minnesota sports fan–advocating a reactionary *play not to lose* approach and advocating the typically short-sighted *fire the coach* mentality… They must breed ‘em in labs around there… :)

      First of all, the last direction the Wild needs to focus their attention is *shutting down the Avs.* Rather–the Wild needs to RAMP UP THE WILD. The team proved in game one that they can beat the Avs when they play their game. They need to retool away from the very reactionary approach you suggest and start being proactive in dictating the flow of the game–instead of merely reacting to what the Avs are doing.

      Time to put the Avs back on their heels instead of trying to stop the Avs from putting THEM back on their heels. It’s PLAY TO WIN hockey as opposed to what you play not to lose(rs), with your wind-up rubber bands upstairs, advocate…

      • lowenni - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        I’m not a Minnesota fan, I’m a neutral observer who can see that the Wild have much more potential than what their coach is getting out of them. And, I agree that they must “shut down the Avs”, which is why sitting a defensive presence in Brodziak for a useless liability like Heatley is foolish, even if Brodziak needs jumpstarting.

      • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Minnesota fan or *neutral observer*–it makes no difference. You are sorely in lack of clues, my friend…

    • guitarhunterdude - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:11 PM

      If anything, they should’ve just swapped McCormick for Fontaine and left it at that. Even a struggling Brodziak is a solid fourth-line center. McCormick is useless, Fontataine would bring some speed if nothing else. Heatley is way to slow to be seeing ice time against a speedy team like the Avs; bringing him in looks like sheer desperation by Yeo to me. I’m thinking his time here is up, I’m on the Laviolette train as well. Though I probably wouldn’t hate Trotz, this team desperately needs to take more shots, and I don’t think he’d get them to do that. A Laviolette team would at least be fun to watch, and I highly doubt they’d do any worse in the standings than the Yeo-run group.

      • guitarhunterdude - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        “Fontataine…” Whoops.

      • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Disagree. McCormick has been a pleasant surprise and is just what that 4th line needed–the way he crashes the boards and plays an up-tempo forecheck… That’s why he has remained in the lineup. I do agree that it would be nice to get Fontaine in there as well…but Brodziac has played his last game for the Wild if they know what they are doing. He just has been consistently sub-par all season long…and that’s just a killer this time of year…

      • getadealdonealready - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:48 PM

        The difference is at home you can get the correct match ups for Heatley, he should be rested, and eager to make a statement that his time in the NHL isn’t done. If you keep him away from the top line you should be fine.

        I disagree with the McCormick assessment, he is the big body this team lacks, Fontaine while he has been a solid scoring threat this season, his play away from the puck is why he has been in the stands of late. Watch him closely, the biggest thing I think he lacks is any sort of physical play. He avoids contact on the forecheck and you can’t do that and be successful this time of the year, especially with a 3rd or 4th line role. It will be interesting to see if he changes his style up a little and can play a little more physical.

  3. greej1938l - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    I disagree. We’re down 0-2 we’re not winning with those guys in the lineup so why switch it up?

  4. 950003cups - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:27 PM

    Yeo has the most talented roster to work with. He’s failed miserably. If you held a vote of all 30 head coaches on who should’ve started in net for the Wild. It would’ve been lopsided in favor of Kuemper BEFORE game one. By game two, a landslide.

    • TBaySlim - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:44 PM

      i dont believe Kuemper was cleared to play until saturday, i beleive harding was Bryzgalov’s back up for game one, and while i dont think Bryzgalov was very strong in game one, two horrific turn overs in game one cost the wild not the goal-tending. Bryzgalov had played good up until the the last 10 mins of game one but the defense of the wild is what has stunk an badly, I think its a roll of the dice with Kuemper since he hasnt played much in a couple of weeks but if the defense doesnt pick it up wont matter whos in net

    • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      The ignorance in this fan base is funnier than hell… :)

      • ignath - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:41 PM

        Your ignorance to the person posting is what is really funny…just because they post on Wild articles does not immediately make them part of the “fan base”…950003cups is a friggin’ Devils fan FFS.

        Calling 930003cups ignorant may not be too far off base [ ;) ] but insinuating he’s a member of the Wild fan base is waaaaay off (unless his love for ZP overcame his hatred of him leaving Joisey)!

      • purpleguy - Apr 21, 2014 at 2:26 PM

        I think clark’s last name is kettle and he’s calling cups (whose last name is pot) — black.

      • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:09 PM

        Interesting reaction, purple… You’re actually one of the Wild fans I’ve noted here who generally reflects a respectable understanding of the game. You should try better to not be so thin-skinned, eh? ;)

      • strictlythedanks - Apr 21, 2014 at 5:19 PM

        clarkey is a vikings hater, I do believe, so his comments are coming from a deranged mind to begin with,

    • barkar942 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:21 PM

      Have you defected to be a fan of the Devils West? Reliving your glory days when Parise was still in red and green- or black? Will you never learn? Luke, come over to the dark Blueshirt side. lol
      (Just like busting you- all in jest)

  5. luvmnsports2012 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:22 PM

    In a big Minny fan of all sports, and u agendas me Clarke16, but I would have to completely agree! The Wild need to concentrate on their game not just trying to stop the Avs game cause we know they are the fastest club in the NHL so slowing them down isn’t really an option! With all that said I like the switch that Yeo is putting in tonight! GO WILD!!!

  6. luvmnsports2012 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:32 PM

    What I meant to say was…im a big Minny fan!* and u affended me Clarke16,* no hard feelings though.

    • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 1:39 PM

      Good to hear, Luv. A good back-handed pimp slap is probably just what the doctor ordered for you once/awhile… :)

  7. luvmnsports2012 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    Slap or be slapped!! Was agreeing with your opinion, but no need to be a D!#% about it! Talk is cheap Clarky, bet if I was in front of you, you would have nothing but nice things to say! Meaning your talk is cheap son! GO WILD!!!

    • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Shiiiit, girl… Fishin’ for compliments on the dress and new hairdo again…? LOL

    • clarke16 - Apr 21, 2014 at 3:23 PM

      Shiiiit, girl… Fishin’ for compliments on the dress and new hairdo again…? LOL

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