The Minnesota Wild are slowly stretching their legs, doing that big, gasping yawn you do when you get out of the car after a six-hour drive. Having played their last hockey game on Thursday, their five-day break over the weekend is coming to a close as they head west to face the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.
But, not before a quick little practice on Monday morning to get the juices flowing and develop some chemistry for head coach Dean Evason’s new lines. Ryan Hartman and Brandon Duhaime are not making the trip, and Marcus Foligno is still injured enough to not play. And in response, the Wild recalled Adam Beckman and Joseph Cramarossa from Iowa to fill-in the lineup.
With all those changes come some new combinations.
Brand New Wild Lineup:
Kirill Kaprizov — Frederick Gaudreau — Mats Zuccarello
Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Matt Boldy
Connor Dewar — Marco Rossi — Mason Shaw
Tyson Jost — Sam Steel — Joseph Cramarossa
Jake Middleton — Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin — Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill — Calen Addison
Most notably, Matt Boldy is going to be with Joel Eriksson Ek and a returning Jordan Greenway in Los Angeles. Boldy and Eriksson Ek looked phenomenal together, so this is just so obvious and with Greenway creating space out there, those two will get plenty of room to create some scoring chances.
Marco Rossi is with two other young guns in Mason Shaw and Connor Dewar, to form a little bit of an energy line and Rossi should be cleaning it up if any offense is started. The first line stays the same and the fourth line is, at this point, just some dudes that are either disappointing or playing a role.
As for the absence of Adam Beckman, we know that Evason likes to have specific players with specific characteristics on certain lines. Beckman is a shooter and a scorer. With the top two lines figured out and Dewar and Shaw certainly deserving top-nine roles, the fourth line was the only spot left and he just doesn’t belong there. If someone looks off, I bet he suits up for the Wild’s contest against the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.
One other notable aspect of this lineup is the reuniting of Jonas Brodin and Matt Dumba on a pairing. Dumba has looked decent after starting out the season rough, so he certainly earns this spot back. And while Calen Addison is putting up points and still looks good, most of that has been on the power play, so having him fresh for the top unit while playing with Jonny Merrill at 5-on-5, isn’t all that bad for the young blueliner.
All in all, there’s plenty to think about and get excited for this upcoming week. It has been too long without Minnesota Wild Hockey.