The Minnesota Wild will shake up the roster a bit heading into a do-or-die Game 5 in Dallas on Friday. Jordan Schroeder and Jarret Stoll will draw into the lineup, replacing Zac Dalpe and Justin Fontaine.
The changes are aiming to add some speed and offense to the lineup, as well as repair a penalty kill that was broken in Game 4. It was their undoing Wednesday, losing 3-2 after giving up a pair of power play goals.
Stoll has made a living off his penalty kill skills, though he’s been hit and miss in that role for the Wild. Like every aspect of the team’s game, the Wild have been Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde on the penalty kill, looking excellent for stretches and then looking pitiably porous.
Stoll will replace Dalpe, who played only the last two regular season games of the year with the NHL club before drawing into three postseason games. He’ll center a fourth line that features Chris Porter and Kurtis Gabriel.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) April 22, 2016
Schroeder will move onto the team’s second line in place of Fontaine, skating with Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker.
Schroeder was strong in an occasional depth role last season for the Wild, providing some offense in limited time and exhibiting strong possession numbers. He’s had a little more trouble igniting this season. With just two goals and four points in 26 games, he hasn’t been able to find that gear he had last year where he was getting pucks on net and creating opportunities off the rush.
He has moved from being a 4.1% score-adjusted CF%Rel last season to a -0.5% this season while seeing roughly the same number of minutes.
Fontaine, a strong possession player, has failed to register any points in the series playing alongside Coyle and Zucker (though lines have been a little fluid). He’s put just four pucks on net in four games.
There’s an interesting decision at work there, removing Fontaine from the lineup in an elimination game and keeping pugilist Gabriel on the fourth line. Gabriel has not been an impact player in his two postseason games. He showed an inability to finish offensively repeatedly and has, at times, looked utterly lost inside the system.
Part of that decision may still rest with General Manager Chuck Fletcher, who, it was revealed by coach John Torchetti, played a role in getting Gabriel into the lineup in the first place.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.