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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Ebbett update; Fletcher holding steady; Lineup updates; Russo chat in minutes

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: December 9, 2009 - 2:50 PM

Good afternoon from frigid Denver.

Andrew Ebbett says he's got a headache, a stiff neck and a sore mouth from the forearm he took from Phoenix's Ed Jovanovski, who was suspended two games. Ebbett believes he also received the butt-end of Jovo's stick because there's a clear line or fingerprint underneath his mouth that looks awfully like a knob of a stick.

I've called upon CSI: Miami's Horatio Caine for a little forensics, and I'll get back to you. Ebbett is out with a concussion, the fourth Wild player to get concussed.

Huge blow because he's been playing well and seems to have been the lone center to develop a little chemistry with Marty Havlat. First and second line will remain intact tonight. It appears as if Havlat will play on the right side of Guillaume Latendresse and Kyle Brodziak and minor-league callup Nathan Smith will center Chuck Kobasew and Cal Clutterbuck, who's expected to return after missing two games with the flu.

Derek Boogaard still has remnants of his flu, so he and Jaime Sifers will be scratched. John Scott, who played wing in Phoenix, will play defense.

GM Chuck Fletcher said he'll hold steady for now and watch the way Smith plays at center. There's always the opportunity to move winger James Sheppard back to center, too. But even if Pierre-Marc Bouchard on long-term injury status (allowing the Wild to go over the $56.8 million salary cap), the Wild's up against the cap.

You can put Brent Burns on LTI, but then when Bouchard and Burns come back, you have to get below the cap. So this really precludes the Wild from making any short-term fixes. He said he is not currently trying to make any trades and the only trade he would make would be anything that helps long-term as opposed to short-term.

Fletcher said none of the concussed players are close to returning, but Petr Sykora's the furthest along because he's doing light workouts. But nobody's close to even skating with the team.

OK, live Russo online chat on startribune.com in 10 minutes ( 3 p.m.) and I'll be on KSTP (1500-am) at 6 p.m.

 

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