Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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St. Louis Blues 3, Wild 1; Johnsson injured

Posted by: under On the road, Wild game coverage Updated: October 23, 2009 - 10:55 PM

Blues coach Andy Murray said this morning that he'd prefer his Blues be the "forechecker rather than the forecheckee."

The Blues hard-working, fast forwards heard Murray loud and clear against the Wild. Like a runaway truck, the Blues just kept flying into Wild defensemen, especially in the first 20 minutes.

They kept coming in the waves, and the Wild couldn't match the start. The Wild regrouped, but the one things that couldn't have been clearer tonight. The Wild does not have the ability to forecheck like the Blues. It's forwards just aren't that aggressive, and don't have the wheels. This will be something Chuck Fletcher will have to address in future transactions if Todd Richards is going to deploy a skating, forechecking system.

The Wild's defensemen just got hammered physically in the first 20 tonight.

Still, Niklas Backstrom stopped 14 of 15 shots as the Wild was outshot 15-4.

That provided the cushion to potentially tie the game in a second period in which the Wild regrouped in nicely. But on consecutive power plays, including an 18-second 5-on-3, Chris Mason was spectacular and the Blues, after nearly scoring shorthanded on a breakaway when Carlo C. (as I'll call him here because I don't feel like spelling his name again) came out of the box, David Perron scored shorthanded anyway, 2-0.

Chuck Kobasew scored his first as a Wild, but the Blues sat back in the third bigtime (15 1/2 minutes without a shot), and the Wild ran out of gas.

Now 0-7 on the road. To make matters worse, Kim Johnsson left the game injured with an upper body injury late in the first after David Backes didn't play Minnesota Nice. Coach Todd Richards said Johnsson's dinged up and hopefully it's nothing major.

But John Scott, who filled in a few shifts for Johnsson tonight after dressing for Derek Boogaard (ill), will likely play in Johnsson's place Saturday night against Carolina.

The Wild will decide on the plane whether Backstrom starts or Josh Harding. If you remember, Backstrom usually struggles in the second of back-to-backs. I'll look up the numbers tomorrow if he plays.

But this is going to be a tired team after the pounding it took tonight physically, so the goaltender better be awesome.

Hopefully the Wild gets Petr Sykora back vs. the Canes. And I'd suspect he'd play alongside Marty Havlat, who didn't have much chemistry with Mikko Koivu and Andrew Brunette tonight.

Havlat just never gets a puck in a shooting area, and he's awfully unselfish. He's more of a playmaker than shooter, but Richards wants him shooting more. He has one goal on 17 shots in seven games. But Richards added that because he's more of a playmaker, the Wild needs to find him a shooter, and that Sykora is.

Another night. Another road loss for the Wild, which did work hard but got another big L. But they are 2-0 at home, so perhaps????

Think the Wild will get a regulation win this year, by the way? Saturday's the 10th game, and no regulation wins.

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