In their last 15 games, your Minnesota Wild are 11-2-2. During that 15-game span, Mikko Koivu has scored 14 points (4G, 10A), while going through a 3-game scoreless mini-slump in there.
I think it's safe to say that the Kaptain is back in business. Also, the headline above MIGHT not be the first time it's been used in HW history.
He hasn't been bad by any means, but the usual drive and determination wasn't as visible earlier in the young season as it is now. The first line of Zach Parise, Koivu and Charlie Coyle is clicking, and that's (obviously) vital going forward. In order to have a good secondary scoring, you need to have any kind of primary scoring, and right now the Wild are "all good" in that department.
So, what's the reason behind this improvement in Koivu's play? I don't think there's any one thing you can point out, but as Russo said, one factor was Yeo splitting up Koivu and Parise. It's funny, but even the biggest names on any given team need a wake-up call sometimes. And so far it has worked out perfectly.
The other thing, in my mind, is the fact that the Wild can actually hope to score even if the first line isn't firing on all cylinders every single night. The secondary scoring hasn't been doing the scoring part as well in the last few games as it did earlier, but the fact that they're a threat makes Koivu's (and Parise's) job so much easier. The opposing coach can't just point out the first line before the game and go; "We focus on them, shut them down, and we've got this". Not anymore. Like I said last week, the improved secondary scoring will eventually translate into points from the big dogs. And it has.
The third thing that comes to mind, is the third guy on that line. Coyle is looking more and more like a younger version of David Backes. Everybody hates David Backes. Everybody AND their mom. But Backes is a f*ing stud on the ice and wins games for his team. Coyle has had his share of questionable moments on the ice during his young career, plays on the edge at times, has huge upside as a powerforward winger/center, and quite frankly is a d*ckhead after most whistles. And that's why I love the kid.
A guy like Coyle is a perfect piece for that line. He's a big body with a powerforward's mentality, and seems to be on the same page with both Koivu and Parise. An added bonus is the right-handed shot.
The biggest thing, though, is just the fact that Koivu really is a #1 center in this league, no matter what some people might say. He's a defensive superhero every single night, and now he's making the right plays with the puck as well. No more "extra passes" on clear scoring chances, he's more active with his shot, he's driving to the middle more and making the defensemen work, instead of cycling the puck in the corner when there's no real need to do that.
Simply put, he's aggressive with the puck again. The goals against Winnipeg and Ottawa? *Those* goals? If there's ever a "vintage Koivu shot", that's the one. The one where he fakes the wrister, drags the puck back and fires it. Good ol' Mikko.
So, how long will this last? Koivu will have his slumps, as all players do, but the bouncing back part is a lot easier now than it has been before. Can he be a PPG player? I'd say he gets close to that. As long as the Wild can score on the powerplay on a consistent enough basis, there's no real reason (other than injuries) why Koivu couldn't put up 70+ points.
A two-way center who scores 70+ points? Mikko Koivu finally realizing his potential? If that happens, the Wild will be in the Play-Offs, and they won't be leaving that party in 5 games, that's for sure. But I'm getting carried away here.