Friday, January 31, 2014

Did The Wild Find Their Top Line?

Photo: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
Ever since the Wild signed Zach Parise, it was a foregone conclusion that the guy centering him for the foreseeable future would be Mikko Koivu. Through the end of December, that was the case as they were linemates for just about all of Parise's time here.

But when January opened up, Parise and Koivu both were sidelined with injuries leaving the top line spots up for grabs.

Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund easily moved to the top line, given their previous successes this year. The pair did alright on the top line, but it was nothing to write home about. The team was winning, but they were having issues scoring.

Then Zach Parise returned last week, joining Granlund and Pominville.

Since the line was teamed up, they have combined for 20 points (8 goals, 12 assists) with a +13 rating. During that time, the Wild went toe to toe with some of the best teams in the league as they beat Western powers Chicago and Anaheim, while taking San Jose to overtime before losing.

If the line can can continue their torrid pace during the final week leading into the Olympic break, it makes it very difficult for Mike Yeo to break up the line. The team has been struggling to find goals (137 goals on the season, fourth fewest in the West), and has relied heavily on their goaltending this past month to win a majority of their games.

You need goals. This line gives you just that.

So when Koivu returns (which now looks like it will be post Olympic break), the top six could potentially be Parise-Granlund-Pominville, Heatley-Koivu-Niederreiter/Coyle (Heatley figures to be back up there due to the head coach's love for the former 50 goal scorer). It hurts to have Koivu down on line two, but as we said before, you need goals.

The Wild have a good thing going on their top line right now. Lets keep them together.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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