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New Papa Koivu Expected Against Blues

by Mike Doyle / Minnesota Wild

Wild captain Mikko Koivu wasn’t at morning skate, presumably with his fiancée Helena, after the couple gave birth to a baby girl.

While Head Coach Mike Yeo couldn’t confirm the baby’s name, he expects the new father to skate tonight as the Wild hosts the St. Louis Blues in its final preseason game at Xcel Energy Center. Koivu will join wings Zach Parise and Jason Pominville for the line’s second game of the preseason.

One thing that Yeo would like to see out of the club’s two remaining preseason games, and something the top line will have an impact on, is improvement on the special teams.

“Five on five we’ve been pretty solid,” Yeo said. “The one area we do want to see a little bit of improvement is special teams. Sometimes that takes a bit of time, and also the fact that we really haven’t had our entire group together for a game, and now we will.”

Yeo was referencing reducing the roster size down to 28 yesterday. He likes being down to one practice session of players looking to make the Opening Night roster on Oct. 3 as the Wild hosts the Los Angeles Kings.

“It’s nice for our guys to get back together and have that time to concentrate on each other,” Yeo said.

Speaking on behalf of the media, the Lighthouse likes being down to covering one practice a day so we can give deliver news to the fans earlier in the day.

After the skate, Yeo didn’t divulge what his lines would look like outside of the top trio, but said that today’s scratches at forward are Mikael Granlund, David Steckel and Jake Dowell. Granlund is recovering from a minor upper-body tweak, incurred on Saturday’s shootout win against Winnipeg, and Yeo said that he is being cautious and expects him to return to the lineup on Friday.

Even though Yeo didn’t give his lines, here is what the Lighthouse thinks might look like:

Parise – Koivu – Pominville
Heatley – Coyle – Zucker
Cooke – Brodziak – Niederreiter
Fontaine – Konopka – Mitchell

As for the defensive pairings, Yeo said Clayton Stoner and Nate Prosser are out. Here are the projected pairs:

Suter – Brodin
Scandella – Spurgeon
Ballard – Dumba

Niklas Backstrom is expected to start in net.

Even though it is just a preseason game, it will be the first time the Wild and Blues faceoff as new Central Division foes. Tonight kicks off the first game of a home-and-home series, which wraps on Friday in St. Louis. Yeo expects a good battle, but his thoughts are squarely on his team.

“I know it’s going to be a good game; they’re going to play hard and they are going to force us to play well,” Yeo said. “But I’m really not focused on St. Louis tonight. This is about us, and looking at our players and looking at our game."

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