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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Wild falls to 0-8 on the road; Gaborik injured; Khudobin on way up

Posted by: under On the road, Wild game coverage Updated: October 26, 2009 - 11:13 PM

Marian Gaborik continued his scorching hot start for the Rangers tonight. The guy has just been sensational and scored two more goals and an assist tonight. But he left the game with 8:13 left with what's said to be a lower body injury. I only bring it up because the Rangers come to town Friday, so obviously, the injury is worth keeping an eye on.

Years ago, the Wild would have a chance to make the playoffs at 41-41. That's assuming, of course, the Wild goes 41-0 at home and 0-41 on the road, which seems like a dictinct possibility.

But it's the era of the 3-point game, so if the Wild plans on going 41-41, 82 points doesn't get it done anymore.

The Wild is now 0-8 on the road, the first team since the '96-97 Penguins according to Elias Sports Bureau to open the season with eight games without a point. The last team to go nine straight was the '92-93 Ottawa Senators, who actually went 38 straight to open the season without a point. So, the Wild has a ways to go to accomplish that "feat."

Same old story tonight. The Wild plays a great first 10 minutes, can't score, give up one 3-on-2, Chicago does score, and the Wild could never ever ever come close to regaining the level it showed in that first 10 minutes.

The Wild just can't score. The skill on this team is nonexistent, and they've now been outscored 27-9 at 5-on-5. If Andrew Brunette wasn't on this team, the offensive output would be really humiliating.

Things continue to be tense in the locker room as I had one near blowup with one player just asking if he was hurt or benched.

The stress on the team is visible with a naked eye. Coach Todd Richards looks at a loss for how to push the buttons.

James Sheppard, who said he'd have a "shooting mentality" had no shots. Neither did Benoit Pouliot, but in all fairness, they barely were able to get into the game. They only played nine minutes each, and they were sporadic shifts because of all the special teams tonight.

The Blackhawks really tightened up late and the Wild could get nothing going. Early on, the Blackhawks showed why they're so good. Everybody crashes the net and makes life miserable for the goaltender -- see Troy Brouwer's goal in which Tomas Kopecky pitched a tent in front of the crease.

On the other end, the Wild don't do that, or at least don't do it effectively. Richards said the Wild works hard, but it doesn't compete hard.

He said he needs more from certain players -- without naming names. Martin Havlat had a ton of jump early but fizzled dramatically after he was on the ice for the Chicago first goal. He finished with only one shot, minus-2 in 20 minutes.

There's really not much more to say.

Lastly, Anton Khudobin is on his way to Minnesota to practice with the Wild tomorrow. GM Chuck Fletcher said backup Josh Harding has been "sore" for awhile and will see the doctors tomorrow, but Harding was really cryptic and said he's not sure he's allowed to comment. He hasn't been traded. I'm pretty sure of that, but I'm not sure if there's something else going on, whether it's injury-wise or of a personal nature.

I'll try to keep tabs, although I'm off Tuesday and Wednesday as I hand off the team to Rachel Blount.

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