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Wild moving Vanek to top line against Senators

by Chris Stevenson

WILD (7-4-0) at SENATORS (6-3-2)


OTTAWA -- With Minnesota Wild alternate captain Zach Parise missing at least the three-game road trip starting here Thursday because of a concussion, left wing Thomas Vanek will get a shot on the Wild's top line.

Vanek will take Parise's place with center Mikael Granlund and right wing Jason Pominville against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at Canadian Tire Centre.

Parise is the Wild's leading scorer with four goals and six assists. Vanek has one goal and seven assists in his first season with the Wild after signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract in July.

"It's going to change the lineup a little bit," coach Mike Yeo said. "I think with Thomas, he's been bounced around a little bit. He's been brought here to produce offense and he's certainly been doing that as of late, more in the assist column than in the goal column, but he's shown he has the ability to create offense.

"We like to think that's a line that can help us contribute offensively, and then we feel the rest of the lineup, we like the complexion, we like the makeup of the rest of our forward lines where every line has an identity and every line has a role."

Vanek and Pominville played together for seven seasons in Buffalo beginning in 2005-06 and had some chemistry with the Sabres.

"Hopefully we haven't lost it," Pominville said. "It's been a while, obviously. Not even training camp or anything, not really any shifts. Hopefully we can still find it and find a way to get it back early."

"It's been a couple of years now since we've done it together," Vanek said, "but usually when you have chemistry with one guy, it tends to come back fairly quickly.

"I feel like I know his game almost better than my own. It will be fun to be on the same line again with him. Maybe a little strange at first, but I'm excited for it."

Yeo said Parise wasn't feeling well during the Wild's 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday.

"We don't have a time frame for you guys here, but obviously a big blow to us," Yeo said.

Parise's condition will be assessed when the Wild return to Minnesota after games at Montreal Canadiens on Saturday and the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday.

"All I know is he is out for this trip, and what I would say is we probably have to get back and talk to the doctors and see from there," Yeo said.

Parise plays in all situations during the 18 minutes and 16 seconds he has averaged per game this season.

"He's a tough guy to replace whether it's in the room, on the ice, basically in every situation, our special teams, our 5-on-5," Pominville said. "You have to deal with injuries. Different guys are going to have step up. Everyone kind of goes up a spot. We're hopeful we have the depth. I think we do. Hopefully guys can step up and take the lead."

Senators goaltender Craig Anderson will start for the second game in a row after making 31 saves in a 3-1 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday.

Anderson said Parise's absence won't change things for the Senators.

"He’s an all-star. He's a key component to their team," Anderson said. "We've been in situations where we have lost key guys, and it allows opportunities for other guys to step up and fill roles. You can't take anybody lightly. We're all National Hockey League players. Anybody can beat you on any given night."

Here are the projected lineups:


Thomas VanekMikael GranlundJason Pominville

Jason ZuckerMikko KoivuCharlie Coyle

Nino NiederreiterErik HaulaJustin Fontaine

Stephane VeilleuxKyle BrodziakRyan Carter

Ryan SuterJonas Brodin

Marco ScandellaChristian Folin

Nate ProsserMatt Dumba

Niklas Backstrom

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Jonathon Blum

Injured: Matt Cooke (lower body), Zach Parise (upper body), Keith Ballard (flu), Jared Spurgeon (upper body)


Clarke MacArthur - Kyle TurrisBobby Ryan

Milan Michalek - Mika Zibanejad - Alex Chiasson

Zack SmithDavid LegwandChris Neil

Mike Hoffman - Curtis LazarMark Stone

Mark Borowiecki - Erik Karlsson

Jared Cowen - Cody Ceci

Patrick Wiercioch - Eric Gryba

Craig Anderson

Robin Lehner

Scratched: Colin Greening, Erik Condra

Injured: Chris Phillips (lower body), Marc Methot (back/hip)

Status report: After alternating his starting goaltenders for five games, Senators coach Paul MacLean will play Anderson two games in a row. "The big thing is we felt we have a good goaltending tandem and we want to make sure we use them as a tandem. We try to keep them fresh and give them an opportunity to play when they're playing well. We wanted to get them off to a good start here in the first 10 games and we felt we've done that and we're going to keep going," MacLean said. … Borowiecki is back in the lineup after missing three games and will likely be paired with Karlsson. … Phillips will miss the game after he was injured against the Detroit Red Wings. … Chiasson returns to the lineup after missing the game against Detroit with a sore foot.

Who's hot: Niederreiter has goals in each of his past two games. … Suter has three assists in the past three games. … Stone has a four-game point streak (two goals, two assists). … Chiasson has two goals and three assists in his past five games.

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