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Yeo promising changes to Wild's personnel

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- One day after his team lost its second straight game and fifth in its past eight, Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo wasn't very revealing about what his lineup would look like Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

"There will be some changes," Yeo said. "It's going to be a surprise. I love surprises."

There wasn’t much of a surprise in their results Sunday against the New York Rangers, a 4-1 loss. It marked the seventh time in the past 14 games the Wild had scored one goal or fewer.

Though Yeo wasn't talking much about his lineup, one thing he seemed against doing was splitting his top two forward pairings, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville.

"Mikko is a skilled player and he needs skilled players with him," Yeo said. "You look around the League, we're not the only team to do that. First-line centermen generally are going to play with first-line wingers. Skilled players need to play with skilled players, that's what it comes down to."

Yeo hopes having Granlund back in the lineup improves the offense. The second-line center played Sunday for the first time since sustaining a concussion Nov. 27 against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Wild went 5-5-1 without him and averaged 1.91 goals per game. He had an assist on the Wild's only goal Sunday

"He went right out and I think the second shift he got the puck down low in the offensive zone and made a great play below the goal line to Nino [Niederreiter] for a great scoring chance and I said it looks like he's back," Yeo said. "I thought as the game went on, similar to our team he faded a little bit, which is understandable considering the fact that he's been out for as long as he has. I thought there was good signs of him and what he can bring to us for sure."

Yeo did say defenseman Clayton Stoner would be out Monday with a lower-body injury sustained Sunday, with Nate Prosser playing in his place. He said defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who sustained an upper-body injury Sunday, was expected to play.

Philadelphia also got a key component back in its previous game when Vincent Lecavalier returned after missing nine games with a non-displaced fracture in his lower back. He had one assist in 16:36 of ice time playing right wing on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read.

"It went good," Lecavalier said. "Obviously I was a little stiff after the game but that's to be expected. I felt really good during the game. I felt like ... sometimes when it's three weeks off you feel slow that first game, but my execution was there. I felt good. Hopefully [Monday] will keep going."

It was a bit of a surprise that Lecavalier was available Saturday. The thought was he would need at least a week or two of skating and full-contract practices before he would be ready.

"Those first two days when [he started skating], it had gotten better but I thought it would plateau a little bit, but it kept getting better and better every day," Lecavalier said. "So we made the best decision, to start playing. I was ready to go. We didn't win the game but personally I felt like I was ... I felt good out there, felt comfortable."

Lecavalier said playing on the wing was a big help, as it alleviated a lot of the hard play that would cause his back issues to flare up. He also took eight faceoffs, which is a far smaller number than usual 11.8 per game he had been averaging.

"It's not the faceoff itself, it's more the game being a center that probably would have been harder if I had played center," Lecavalier said. "It's a more demanding game. When it's your first game, you only had one practice, your legs can get pretty heavy. But for me to be on the right was pretty good. It was a good way to start."

The Flyers will have two changes on defense, as Nicklas Grossmann returns after missing the game Saturday due to the flu, and Andrej Meszaros will play for the first time since Dec. 5 in place of Erik Gustafsson, who will be out about two weeks with a sprained left knee. Meszaros had been a healthy scratch the past five games and 14 of the past 21.

"The first couple shifts are going to be important to get into it right away," Meszaros said. "Just have to make sure I get myself ready to go from the start."

Here’s the lineup the Flyers will use, with the Wild's roster to be determined:

Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jakub Voracek

Scott Hartnell - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds

Matt Read - Sean Couturier - Vincent Lecavalier

Zac Rinaldo - Chris VandeVelde - Adam Hall

Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn

Nicklas Grossmann - Mark Streit

Andrej Meszaros - Luke Schenn

Steve Mason

Ray Emery

Scratched: Jay Rosehill, Hal Gill

Injured: Steve Downie (upper body), Erik Gustafsson (lower body)


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