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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Richards to shake up lines; Sykora may play; Latendresse sick

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: January 17, 2010 - 4:40 PM

When I headed to the airport last night, I saw the Arizona Cardinals' caravan of buses driving by with a police escort. They had just gotten back from New Orleans, where their season ended. Maybe I'll get to see the Cowboys when they return from MSP tonight.

Coincidentally, I'm coming to you from Dallas, where the Wild will visits the South Stars Monday night. The Wild hasn't won in this building since March 2003, going winless in 10 straight.

Guillaume Latendresse, who has seven goals and 12 points in the last seven games, missed practice today because of illness. Roommate Eric Belanger was immediately taken out of the room. So Latendresse is questionable against the Stars, which obviously would be a huge loss if he can't play.

Coach Todd Richards shook up the lines at practice today, specifically breaking up the Andrew Brunette-Mikko Koivu-Antti Miettinen line. The line's hit the skids lately, and last night was minus-13 (although some were bogus). Richards had a long meeting with Koivu, who is coming off a personally-difficult game.

I wouldn't go to the bank with these lines because Richards scrambled a lot today and with Latendresse missing, everything could be inaccurate, but Brunette and Miettinen skated mostly with Andrew Ebbett and Koivu centered Nolan and Petr Sykora.

Sykora may get to play tomorrow night, Richards said. He wasn't definitive, but he said he wanted to see work ethic and commitment from Sykora if he played.

Marek Zidlicky missed practice today, but he'll play, said Richards.

Alex Auld will start for the Stars. Mike Ribeiro and Brenden Morrow are out. Jere Lehtinen and Nicklas Grossman are questionable for the Stars, who are 10-2-2 in their past 14 at home.

OK, I've got to write. I wrote a story on the plane, but I'll hold it with the No. 1 separation story. I'm groggy. As I joked on Twitter, my story will start off flat, it'll get stronger as it gets longer but will likely fall short in the end.

How tired am I? I took a swig of coffee on the plane. The woman next to me goes, "That's mine." I go, "That explains the Bailey's in it."

Good day.

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