It’s a big day across the State of Hockey. Sure the Flames are in town, but before you head over to Xcel Energy Center, mix in a little civic duty.
It’s the first Tuesday in November, which means it’s Election Day. Flock to the polls while you can and make your opinion count — whether its voting on a school levy or picking from among 35 candidates for the next mayor of Minneapolis.
As the votes are counted tonight, the Wild hope to ring up a few tallies of its own before heading out on the road. Aiding in that process will be the return of Charlie Coyle to the top line.
Coyle made his big return from injury Nov. 1 against the Canadiens, which the Wild won 4-3. But in the contest he re-aggravated his knee and sat out against the Devils, though Head Coach Mike Yeo said it was more of a precautionary move than anything else. Well, Coyle is feeling good once again and is ready for action.
Coming into season the 21-year-old initially made the move to center, but tonight, expect to see him on the right wing alongside Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu — the same mix the Wild rolled with for a stretch last season. Parise and Koivu have certainly created a lot of scoring opportunities together this season, along with the revolving door they’ve had at right wing, but they haven’t been able to consistently put the puck in the net. Yeo hopes that by bringing in Coyle, who they know well, Parise and Koivu can have that added finish and play at their best.
Yeo also mentioned that by putting Coyle on the wing, it gives him some time to get back into the game and get comfortable.
While that top line will look to really get things going, Yeo, of course, kept the surging second line together. Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter are clicking so well that they have a combined 20 points in the last five games. Pominville’s four goals last week and six points overall (4-2=6) earned him the NHL’s First Star of the Week. Welcome to Graninoville. (The jury is still out on how much we at the Lighthouse actually like this nickname, but it’s sticking for now).
WildTV caught up with Niederreiter and he simply said it’s fun line to play on. Niederreiter also spoke a bit about Flames netminder Reto Berra, who he has skated with several times on the Swiss national team. The forward said the two are friends and he was happy for Berra when he got called up to the NHL, but he’s also been giving the Wild some advice on how to approach the goaltender.
Berra made his NHL debut for the Flames Sunday in a 3-2 overtime victory in Chicago. Berra made 42 saves on the night as the Flames moved to a .500 record at 6-6-2.
Opposite Berra, Josh Harding will continue to get the nod between the pipes for the Wild. Yeo said that while they don’t want to sit Niklas Backstrom too long and considered putting him in net tonight, it’s hard to sit a goalie coming off a shutout victory. As of right now, it certainly seems as if it’s Harding’s net to lose.