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Wild unveil new lineup, trying something new

Dean Evason is getting experimental.

San Jose Sharks v Minnesota Wild Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

The Minnesota Wild have been slightly embarrassed for their rough start of the season. No matter where they turn in the first 16 games of the season, something has gone wrong. Whether it is the overall defense, or the goaltending or the penalty kill, or the power play, or now just scoring some damn goals; the Wild have had a problem.

In response to that — and losing to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday — head coach Dean Evason has decided to shuffle up his forward lines at practice on Wednesday morning, more than he has at any point this season.

Brand New Wild Lineup

Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Mason Shaw — Connor Dewar — Matt Boldy
Brandon Duhaime — Joel Eriksson Ek — Marcus Foligno
Tyson Jost — Marco Rossi — Sam Steel

The blue line is staying the same, for now.

First, the top line is staying the same, but after that, it’s a bunch of new or revitalized combinations. Matt Boldy hasn’t been the same electric player that he was to finish last season and start this season, so Evason has decided to put two sparkplug forwards in Dewar and Shaw next to him, to be like two buzzing bees on the ice as Boldy creates the play. Might work, so they might as well try.

In addition to adding the two up-and-comers to his line, Boldy has been demoted down to the second power play unit. The first powerplay unit is now Kaprizov, Zuccarello, Eriksson Ek, Gaudreau, and Calen Addison. Boldy has not looked as comfortable in possession with the top unit, so either this is punishment or trying to spread out the talent, since the original second unit has not had any success.

With Duhaime returning and his punishing play, he can certainly try and be a Jordan Greenway replica and with Eriksson Ek and Foligno together again, maybe recreate some of that “GREEF” magic from the last two seasons, temporarily. And Marco Rossi has been shunned to the fourth line to be with a player that has been a healthy scratch and another young forward that has been a disappointment.

The timing of this is curious, but sort of makes sense. The Wild are about to host the Pittsburgh Penguins, Carolina Hurricanes, Winnipeg Jets, and Toronto Maple Leafs in four consecutive games. Obviously, these are four teams that are at the top or near the top of their respective divisions and have a whole lot of firepower. Maybe these new lines provide more balance to the lineup and Evason can test these combinations against very good competition.

But if they look terrible again, for the next two games or so, we’re sure that there will be more changes to come.