The Minnesota Wild clearly felt they needed to shake things up ahead of their Thursday night matchup against the Dallas Stars, and coach Dean Evason unveiled a quartet of new lines that gives off a feeling of terrible nostalgia or just pure intrigue.
Just take a gander at these:
Greenway - Eriksson Ek - Foligno
Fiala - Hartman - Zuccarello
Kaprizov - Rask - Gaudreau
Duhaime - Sturm - Pitlick
Firstly, the reunion of the top line is interesting enough by itself. That line was able to dominate possession enough to be one of the best to do it last season, but lacked some scoring punch with all players really just trying to jam their way into the net before the puck does. Maybe Evason really just wants to have a punishing line that is once again, hard to play against, so putting these guys back together does spell something like that.
Going down the lineup, because I just like order and looking down lists, is a new combination that might be the best offensive option they have. Mats Zuccarello and Kevin Fiala have played a total of 41 minutes and 15 seconds of 5-on-5 action in the last three seasons. That’s not a lot of time to develop any sense of chemistry. And throw in the red-hot Ryan Hartman down the middle, and it essentially becomes a make-or-break kind of line for them.
And, of course, Kaprizov is handed some very Not Offensive players in Victor Rask and Frederick Gaudreau. Gaudreau can certainly surprise and has honestly played pretty well with Kaprizov when Zucc was on the other side of them, but putting Rask — who is coming off a streak of healthy scratches — might not be the best option to get the Wild’s Russian star going.
Finally, we are left with the fourth line. The Elite Fourth Line (substituting Rem Pitlick for Nick Bjugstad) returns back to their roots and it honestly might be the best option to get some goals when they get going. In the artistry of Juggernaut from the X-Men franchise, they can be slow to start, but this line, if they gain any sense of momentum, they will be making the opposing team stuff their bellies full of the pucks they are firing at the net.
It’s an interesting change-up that Evason is throwing us, but we all know that with the significance of this change, we might see a completely different lineup if they lose badly tonight against Dallas.