Charlie Coyle will return from a knee injury tonight from Minnesota, and he’ll do it on a new-look line.
Coyle, who’s played just two games this season, will suit up for the first time in 11 contests on Friday against Montreal, on a unit featuring leading scorer Zach Parise and one of either Justin Fontaine or Dany Heatley.
“The guys are excited and anxious to try it out,’’ head coach Mike Yeo told the Minnesota Star-Tribune. “But it’s one thing to do it in practice and another to do it in a game.’’
The Wild, who have been erratic offensively this season, are once again shaking things up at forward in the hope of finding the right line combinations (some argue all the line switching prevents building chemistry, but that’s another discussion for another time.)
Mikael Granlund will center Matt Cooke and Jason Pominville, while captain Mikko Koivu will play between Kyle Brodziak and Nino Niederreiter.
Yeo suggested the moves prevent Minnesota from having one true “checking line,” spreading the offense out evenly across all three units. That said, Yeo was adamant his club doesn’t lose any defensive prowess up front with the new look.
“It’s easy to look at what [Granlund] has done offensively in the last little bit, but it started with his defensive game,’’ Yeo said. “There’s no reason why Charlie shouldn’t be very effective at that, too. [He has] a big body, he’s a smart hockey player, he moves well.
“And obviously Mikko [Koivu], we have no concerns about him going against top guys.”
Defenseman Jonas Brodin will be back in tonight as well, after missing the last three games with a broken cheekbone.