The Minnesota Wild are actually going to play a hockey game tonight! It’s incredible! And to make it all that more interesting, head coach Dean Evason and his crew of coaches got together to try out some new forward lines against the Dallas Stars.
There’s some familiarity in here, but overall it’s a new look for the 12 dudes.
Projected forward lines:
Kaprizov - Hartman - Zuccarello
Foligno - Eriksson Ek - Fiala
Duhaime - Gaudreau - Bjugstad
Pitlick - Sturm - Rask
The top line stays the same — and that’s kind of the easiest decision to ever make, especially the way that Hartman is playing with those two offensive wingers.
For the second line, Jordan Greenway is out with a minor injury, so Kevin Fiala is able to take his place next to the dominant two-way duo of Eriksson Ek and Foligno. It will be incredibly interesting if Fiala is able to have a little bit more space out there to unleash his shots, or there will be too much effort put on getting control of the puck that the offense might lose a little bit.
For the third — speaking of offense — this line might either grind their way to pot in a goal or two, or be completely blown out of the water in terms of controlling play. All three skaters are of course very good, but generally complementary and vultures on the loose pucks that their typical linemates shake loose from the opposing defenders. It will be really interesting to see how they can gel together.
And lastly, Rem Pitlick is able to make his return to the lineup, after learning some things from the coaching staff, and he joins Nico Sturm and Victor Rask to round out the forward group. Pitlick was incredible at getting his shot on net during his time with Gaudreau and Fiala not so long ago, but I cannot see him getting those same opportunities with his new linemates. He will be the go-to guy to shoot from distance, so maybe it will all work out if Sturm simply wills his way behind the goal line, attracting some attention, and tosses it to Pitlick to fire off.
All in all, it will be a thoughtful but most likely temporary look at what some combinations can look like, especially against a slower opponent like the Stars.