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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Boogaard vs. McGrattan tonight?; Sheppard back to center; Smith, Scott out

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: December 11, 2009 - 2:21 PM

Good afternoon from snowy Calgary, where the real storm's apparently heading tomorrow. Let's hope I get out beforehand.

I'm road weary. I just tried to get into room 1822 at my hotel -- which was my room number in Denver. 

Todd Richards normally doesn't like to change lineups after wins, but because of tonight's "hostile environment," Richards will throw Derek Boogaard back into the lineup and remove center Nathan Smith. That means James Sheppard will have to move back to center from wing, where he had been playing better (discounting his game in Phoenix).

So could we see Round 2 of Boogaard vs. Calgary heavyweight Brian McGrattan. The last time they fought was in Jan. 2006 when Ottawa came into St. Paul and steamrolled the Wild.

Boogaard said it was the fight he thought he was going to lose because he lost grip of McGrattan. I couldn't remember the fight, so I asked Boogaard if he won. He smiled and said, "YouTube it."

Here's the fight, with Dan Terhaar and Mike Greenlay on the call.

Nathan Smith and John Scott, who combined for four penalties in Denver, will be removed from the lineup and Jaime Sifers put back in on the blue line.

Miikka Kiprusoff vs. Niklas Backstrom tonight in a battle of potential starters for Team Finland in the Olympics. I wrote about that for my Sunday column. Backstrom said he will go no matter if he's the No. 1, 2 or 3 goalie. Kiprusoff told Calgary reporters last month while the team was in California that he'd only go if he's the starter. He later claimed he was misquoted, but astonishingly, the exact same quote appeared in both Calgary papers.

Lots of funny stuff from the locker room today. You know how some of you guys have emailed me or talking on message boards that the Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Antti Miettinen line should be called, "Two blondes and a brunette?" Well, apparently the players already came up with that last year when the trio played together for the first two months.

But Koivu said it doesn't work anymore because Brunette is, well, gray. As one of the Colorado trainers said to Bruno the other day, "I thought a skunk was walking down the hall."

I'll be writing about the three tomorrow, mostly Miettinen, who seems to be on a hot streak since his bout with swine flu and a knee to the groin.

I also have a funny note involving Chuck Kobasew, but I'll probably hold that for Vancouver because my notebook's jam-packed for tomorrow's paper and I need some insurance in case I don't make it to Vancouver by the skates because of weather.

But if you want to know what I'm talking about, you can go onto my Twitter from the Phoenix game and look at my Kobasew-Lombardi tweet. My assumption on that play was dead-on.

As for the Flames, they're playing great, especially at home (minus blowout to Chicago a few weeks back). Only real news is Craig Conroy, who may have a knee injury, may try to play.

OK, I've got lots of work to do.

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