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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(UPDATED) Brunette gametime decision tonight; Gaborik still questionable for Friday; Almond to have wrist surgery

Posted by: under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 28, 2009 - 1:34 PM

(UPDATED)

Good afternoon everybody. Jumping on here for Rachel Blount, who's covering tonight's game in the battle of two of the worst offenses in the NHL.

Andrew Brunette apparently skated this morning, but he's going to be a gametime decision with an unknown injury. He was hit with a shot late in the Chicago game, but his upper leg has also been wrapped a lot lately, so maybe it's something else.

Brunette apparently said he fully expects to play, and coach Todd Richards apparently said he expects him to play.

But if the Wild's leading goal scorer can not, Derek Boogaard will play in his place and the lines will be shuffled.

It'll be interesting to watch Petr Sykora, who didn't seem happy after the game the other night. One has to think he'll be playing with a little motivation after being benched for much of Monday's game (played 9:36). He started on a line with Martin Havlat, and then he was cemented to the bench pretty much after the first goal against. Sykora got almost no power-play time with Havlat. Once Sykora was off Havlat's line the other night, Havlat was a completely different player, too.

For a team with few goal scorers though, one would think Richards is going to have to just let these guys play even if he's not always happy with their performances. Sykora is still one of only three NHL players currently in the league that's scored 20 or more goals in the past 10 seasons. I don't see too many other Wild players with that type of pedigree, and on a team with few finishers, sometimes you just have to let players continue to play when they're a guy who only needs one chance to finish.

Richards talked a lot this morning about the Wild being too cute, and that they just have to start shooting.  The Wild do pass up a lot of shots trying to be too fancy, and as Richards said, they're not a cute team.

Marian Gaborik is out tonight against the New York Islanders. I'm being told from people in the know that it's a knee injury, which if true, I think that's new for Gaborik. At least, he didn't have any knee injuries during the four years I covered him.

As of now, coach John Tortorella is not saying when he'll play again, so his status for Friday is still very much questionable. I've got to look this up, but I'm pretty sure that when Pavel Bure was making his first return to Vancouver when I covered the Panthers, the night before, he got slashed by Steve Smith and broke a finger. We all had Bure returns stories in the paper the next day, and he wasn't able to play.

Also, I put this on Twitter yesterday but didn't put on the blog, but the Wild's applied to host the 2011 NHL Draft.

Prospect Cody Almond will have wrist surgery on Thursday. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher says it's usually four to six weeks, but he'll give more specific timetable after surgery. Josh Harding will see the doctors tonight.

I know I keep adding to this, but Kevin Falness' Hockey Unplugged from last night with Cal Clutterbuck and John Scott is hysterical stuff. It really just shows the personalities of these two that this beat writer is treated to on a daily basis. Falness is great at his job, but this is always the best thing he does. Great questions to draw out lots of laughs. Best question from kid: John Scott, is it fun beating the crap out of people?

Here's the link

Lastly, Russo Radio tonight on KSTP at 6 p.m.

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