With the injury to Cal Clutterbuck, and the need for a right-shot forward, Minnesota called up Charlie Coyle and sent down Johan Larsson. Not only is this Coyle’s second stint with the big club this year, it’s the first time that the full top line the Houston Aeros began the season with (Zucker-Granlund-Coyle) will be up with the Minnesota Wild. With that in mind, could we see some interesting line combinations tonight? Let’s take a look at each line that Yeo has currently been running.
First Line: Parise-Koivu-Heatley. ‘Nuff said, moving on.
Second Line: Zucker-Cullen-Setoguchi. This line has been absolutely rocking the past few games; Zucker scored an electrifying goal against the Red Wings on Sunday night and Setoguchi and Cullen combined for three goals Thursday night in Edmonton. It’s also interesting when you look at the combination of a promising rookie, aging veteran and struggling goal scorer. Maybe they’re what each other needs to succeed. It’s certainly worth keeping them together for a few more games to see if that chemistry keeps building.
Third Line: Bouchard-Brodziak-Clutterbuck. This line has struggled this year, especially considering Bouchard is a “top-6 or bust” player. And, so far, he’s been a bust. There’s no doubt in my mind this is his last year with the team. With Clutterbuck’s injury, Coyle will likely take his place on the third line, unless Yeo makes any drastic changes. If Konopka is playing tonight, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Bouchard as the healthy scratch with Granlund moving up to take his place.
Fourth Line: Rupp-Granlund/Konopka-Mitchell. Acquired in the offseason, Zenon Konopka started the season as Minnesota’s fourth line center, but has rotated with rookie forward Mikael Granlund. After the Hall/Clutterbuck fiasco the other night, Konopka is almost guaranteed to be in tonight’s lineup. Minnesota just can’t allow such physical abuse of their players to go unchecked.
With the injury to Clutterbuck, and the addition of Coyle and Konopka, the forward lineup could look a little something like this:
In fact, the more I look at this lineup, the more I like it. Yes, it would be interesting to reunite Granlund and Coyle with Zucker on the second line but, think about it, if you’re Coach Yeo, would you really risk the second line’s recent success for an all-rookie line instead? All three rookies are superb talents, and will be incredible NHLers in due time, but now is not the time. There is a real future for these three in Minnesota’s top six—possibly even as the Wild’s future top line—but patience is needed. In the meantime, that lineup doesn’t look so bad, does it?