Slumping Wild shake up lines, but Yeo won’t divulge details


With just one win and 12 goals in its last six games, Minnesota is changing things up at forward.

That much we know.

What we don’t know is how the new-look Wild will, uh, look. That’s because head coach Mike Yeo refused to divulge details prior to tonight’s game on Long Island, telling reporters they’ll have to wait until warmups to see the changes.

First, some context. The Wild have been slumping lately but are still in reasonably good shape — three of their five losses came in a shootout, meaning they’ve actually collected five points during the “slump.” It’s a big reason why they’re on 80 points and holding the first of two wild card spots in the Western Conference, five clear of ninth-place Dallas.

That said, all is not well in Minnesota.

Outside of the stellar Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville line, scoring has been virtually non-existent. Matt Moulson, the club’s big deadline day acquisition, has struggled to find his niche in the lineup and has just one goal through six games.

Captain Mikko Koivu is pointless in his last four games. Nino Niederreiter has two points in his last eight. Charlie Coyle has one goal since the Olympic break. And so on. And so forth.

Following Monday’s 4-1 loss to Boston — Minnesota’s second straight game scoring just one goal — Yeo acknowledged changes were necessary up front to help generate some offense.

“Certainly, we’re going to look at our lines,” Yeo said, per the Pioneer Press. “I’m not sure we have exactly the right mix.

“We have to figure that out, though, because it doesn’t quite have the right feel right now.”

After years of hype, McDavid to play first NHL game

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The hype surrounding Connor McDavid couldn’t be much greater, but finally expectations will start to give way to results.

The NHL career that’s been talked about for years will begin tonight when his Edmonton Oilers face St. Louis.

“It’s something that you dream of for so long,” McDavid told NHL.com. “The draft is one thing, but to finally be in this situation is another, so I’m really excited. It’s been a long road; it’s been a lot of hard work. I think a lot of guys’ stories are different in how they get here, but the one common theme is hard work and my story is not any different that way.”

McDavid has transformed the Oilers with his mere presence. Its breathed fresh optimism into a city that have watched this team struggle in its efforts to dig out of the NHL basement. One also has to wonder if Peter Chiarelli would be the team’s new general manager and Todd McLellan its new head coach if Edmonton hadn’t won the draft lottery.

But where will he lead Edmonton? Will he be just the sixth 70-point rookie of the salary cap era? Will he struggle out of the gate, putting the hype into question? Perhaps he’ll draw comparisons to Steven Stamkos, who had a modest rookie campaign by the standards of a highly regarded top pick, but has nevertheless gone on to become a superstar.

That would surprise Stamkos as the Lightning captain feels McDavid is better than he is currently. Just further proof that those lofty expectations are coming from all sides.

“You don’t want to put too much weight on his shoulders; he’s an 18-year-old kid,” Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “I don’t care how good he is or how good he’ll be, it’s a lot to shoulder if you’re supposed to be the guy and you’re the only guy. Fortunately we have a lot of high-pedigree players that are high picks who have gone through similar situations that he’s going through.”

Edmonton certainly has no shortage of first overall picks, but none as highly regarded as McDavid. But then, few ever are.

Related: There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

There’s ‘a real positive vibe’ in Buffalo, where Eichel will make NHL debut tonight

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Jack Eichel didn’t disappoint in the preseason, finishing with six points in four games, including two shorthanded goals.

Tonight in Buffalo, his NHL career will start for real when the Sabres host the Ottawa Senators in regular-season action.

“It’s something I’ve dreamed of my whole life, stepping foot on that ice and making the NHL,” Eichel said, per NHL.com. “It’s kind of been a whirlwind, but you’re finally playing hockey for a living and everything you’ve done your whole life is to get to this point. It’s pretty special.”

The 18-year-old’s debut was front-page news this morning in Buffalo, where the Sabres have been among the NHL’s worst teams since last making the playoffs in 2010-11.

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Granted, even with the additions of Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Evander Kane, Robin Lehner and Cody Franson, expectations for 2015-16 remain modest for the new-look Sabres. Certainly, a spot in the playoffs would count as a surprise.

But for the fans of a team that’s barely possessed the puck the past couple of years, it’s night and day.

“People are excited,” GM Tim Murray said earlier this week. “It’s great. They think we’ve improved, and there’s a real positive vibe, I believe.

“That’s what I said to our coaches, ‘I want everybody to be positive. I’m the only guy in the organization allowed to be negative.’ That’s the way I wanted it. If I’m the most negative guy in the city about the team, that’s pretty good.”