We don’t even know how to say it differently anymore — the Minnesota Wild stink right now. Whether it is poor defense one night, terrible goaltending another, or just not being able to get enough scoring chances a whole different night; things are not going right for the Wild and they have wholeheartedly earned their 1-3-1 start to the season.
And with this stuttering start, even a typically stubborn head coach like Dean Evason, who prides himself on finding the right combinations of players and sticking with them through everything, is finding himself changing up the lineup.
On Monday’s practice, the day before they face the Montreal Canadiens, he did a complete overhaul of the lineup with three brand new forward lines and two new defense pairings.
Brand New Wild Lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Matt Boldy — Marco Rossi — Marcus Foligno
Brandon Duhaime — Joel Eriksson Ek — Ryan Hartman
Tyson Jost — Sam Steel — Connor Dewar/Mason Shaw
Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Calen Addison
Jon Merrill — Matt Dumba
We have to organize our thoughts in point form, sorry.
- Hartman has been so bad that he cannot keep the top-line center spot after regaining the position just last week. It’s just not working, so Evason has put defensively-minded Gaudreau in his place to try and just see if something works.
- Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi stay together after looking decent against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, but are now joined by Marcus Foligno, because...
- Eriksson Ek is no longer with Foligno, as that line got absolute caved in on Saturday, so he is now with Duhaime and Hartman to try and get their games going with the two-way center.
- Jost has been sent down to the fourth line and just hasn’t fit anywhere in the lineup. We wouldn’t be surprised if Shaw takes his place on Tuesday.
- On the blue line, we’re seeing the same top pairing but this is probably the most significant change Evason could have made this early in the season. Addison is getting his chance in the top-four next to Brodin and after sputtering around in Boston, Dumba is down on the bottom pairing with Merrill. A complete overhaul of the blue line that should hopefully provide more offensive dynamism.
We’ll have to see if this works, but at least Evason is open to changing it up and tinkering to find the right match. There has not been a game from a forward line or pairing that we like and then the coach has changed it on us. All the moves have been completely justifiable, so there’s at least that comfort.
It is going to be an interesting game, no doubt.