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Wild expected to get Granlund back against Flyers

by Dan Myers

FLYERS (13-14-6) at WILD (16-12-3)


ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund is expected to play Tuesday against the Philadelphia Flyers after missing one game with an illness. He missed the Wild's game Saturday against the Nashville Predators, as well as the past two days of practice, with a stomach ailment that has gone through the Wild dressing room.

Coach Mike Yeo said he expects Granlund to assume his duties on Minnesota's top line despite a solid game Saturday by Charlie Coyle, who skated between Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek after Granlund was scratched following pre-game warm-ups.

Minnesota aims to snap a three-game losing streak and head into the NHL's three-day holiday break with some momentum. To do that, Yeo hopes significant changes to Minnesota's bottom-six group will make things more difficult on the Flyers. Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine will be scratched and Stu Bickel will be in the lineup at right wing on the fourth line.

"Teams have been too comfortable coming in here lately," Yeo said.

Haula has struggled after assuming a larger role during the Wild's Stanley Cup Playoff series win against the Colorado Avalanche last season.

"He's got a pretty good feel for where he's at right now," Yeo said. "I had a good talk with him. A lot of guys are trying to do the right thing, their heart is in the right place, but focus-wise and mindset-wise, I think this is where the [holiday] break will come into good use as far as hitting the reset button."

The same can be said for goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who started the season with three shutouts in his first four games. Kuemper has been pulled in four of his past five starts at home and will be the backup Tuesday to Niklas Backstrom.

"I think he just needs to shut the brain off for a couple of days," Yeo said. "Not think about hockey, get away from the rink and get recharged and excited to come back.

"It's not like we are quitting on these guys, or we don't believe in them, it's just a means to try and get them in the right mind-frame to come back and be really good."

The Flyers will be without forward Zac Rinaldo for the second consecutive game. Rinaldo sustained an upper-body injury Saturday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. He skated with the team Tuesday, but general manager Ron Hextall said he is not healthy enough to play.

Philadelphia did receive good news on goaltender Steve Mason, as Hextall said his injury is not believed to be serious. Mason sustained an upper-body injury last Friday in practice and will miss his third straight game Tuesday. Hextall said Mason will rejoin the team in Nashville following the holiday break, but already ruled him out of Philadelphia's game against the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Ray Emery will be the Flyers starting goaltender Tuesday. He is 4-2-1 with a 2.39 goals-against average in seven games against the Wild.

Here are the projected lineups:


Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Brayden Schenn - Scott Laughton - Wayne Simmonds

R.J. Umberger - Sean Couturier - Matt Read

Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vincent Lecavalier

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Nick Schultz - Braydon Coburn

Andrew MacDonald - Luke Schenn

Ray Emery

Rob Zepp

Scratched: Carlo Colaiacovo, Michael Del Zotto

Injured: Steve Mason (upper body), Zac Rinaldo (upper body), Kimmo Timonen (blood clots), Ryan White (chest)


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Jason Pominville

Matt Cooke - Charlie Coyle - Nino Niederreiter

Ryan Carter - Kyle Brodziak - Stu Bickel

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Justin Falk - Christian Folin

Niklas Backstrom

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Erik Haula, Justin Fontaine, Nate Prosser

Injured: Keith Ballard (head/face)

Status report: With Rinaldo out, VandeVelde will remain in the lineup. A native of Moorhead, Minn., VandeVelde had an assist and was a plus-2 Sunday in a 3-2 against the Winnipeg Jets. … Bickel will be playing in his fifth game with the Wild this season. Minnesota is 4-0-0 in games Bickel has played.

Who's hot: Voracek leads the NHL with 44 points and has three goals and four assists in Philadelphia's past three games. … Parise is coming off a three-point game Saturday against Nashville. He leads the Wild with 26 points in 26 games.

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