Phillips To Debut Thursday; Big Boys On Friday
Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 4:56 PM CT / News
By Glen Andresen - Manager of Social Media
Head Coach Mike Yeo used Wednesday to evaluate his team's performance in a 4-3 win in Edmonton last night, and also to look ahead to a busy weekend.
Yeo will use a young lineup tomorrow in St. Louis, and will then unveil the Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley-Devin Setoguchi line in the preseason home opener against Columbus on Friday night. After a Saturday matinee in Pittsburgh, the rookie Head Coach will want to get his roster down to where he wants it to be going forward.
"As quickly as possible, we'd like to get down to our group," said Yeo.
That means a large cutdown day could come as soon as Sunday,but Minnesota did trim its roster by nine on Wednesday. Forwards Joel Broda, Justin Fontaine and Como Park's Mike Kramer, as well as defensemen Sam Lofquist and Kyle Medvec were sent to Houston. Tyler Graovac, Carter Sandlak, Josh Caron and Colton Jobke were also assigned to their respective junior teams.
But there are still plenty of young guys available, and many will get their shot tomorrow night against the Blues.
The line of Eric Nystrom centering Brad Staubitz and Colton Gillies will be the most senior combination. Behind them will be:
Brett Bulmer-Zack Phillips-Kris Foucault
Jeff Taffe-Warren Peters-Jed Ortmeyer
Jarod Palmer-Taylor Peters-Carson McMillan
The Wild will go with four defensemen who played last night in Edmonton, with Chay Genoway and Marco Scandella joining the mix:
Justin Falk-Jordan Hendry
Niklas Backstrom will get his first start of the preseason out of the way behind this young lineup.
"It's a young group, but I have confidence with that group," said Yeo. "I really believe we're going to go out and play the right way and they're going to play hard and they're going to give us a great effort."
Of course, this also means that Koivu's line will wait one more night before getting in a game situation.
"I think our fans are excited about seeing those guys on the ice, and rightfully so. I am too," admitted Yeo. "So let's get those guys going out."
The only bad news surrounding the club is that Cody Almond and Casey Wellman have been limited by injuries. These games would be proving grounds for them as both have legitimate chances at making their way to the regular season opener.
"We're trying to keep them away from sharp objects," joked Yeo, knowing how much they want to get on the ice. Still, Yeo is excited to see how his young players respond to NHL situations, including 2011 first round pick, Zack Phillips.
"I thought he was fantastic in Traverse City," said Yeo. "His skill level was on display every time on the ice. Now's the opportunity for him to get into a real game situation and be a guy that's not only in the lineup but we're going to count on him in key situations."