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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Monday's optional practice

Posted by: Rachel Blount under Wild practice Updated: March 8, 2010 - 7:49 PM

Mike Russo took a well-deserved and long-overdue day off Monday, and some of the Wild backed it off a bit as well on the day between games. Just 11 guys skated today, with Josh Harding the only goalie on the ice. Coach Todd Richards also passed on the on-ice work, allowing his assistants to run practice.

Not much news today, but there are a couple of injury updates. Cal Clutterbuck, who got a charley horse in Sunday's loss to Calgary, received treatment Monday and didn't skate. He's listed as day-to-day. Clayton Stoner should be back on the ice soon. After surgery Feb. 12 to repair a sports hernia, he aggravated the injury when he returned to practice last week. Richards said Stoner got a cortisone shot on Friday or Saturday and had to sit out three days after that. He expects Stoner to be back on the ice doing whatever activity he can handle once he's given medical clearance.

Richards said there were "a lot of emotions'' after Sunday's loss, but the players returned to the rink Monday with their focus reset on Tuesday's game against Florida. They understand how slim their playoff hopes have grown, but Greg Zanon said the mood still is positive. This bunch has come back lots of times this season, he said, and the confidence they've gained from rallying to win games is helping them stay optimistic now.

That said, with only 18 games left, the Wild has almost no margin for error. Richards didn't want to call tonight's game a must- win, but he did say "it's a close as you get to a must-win.''

Russo will be back with you tonight. Enjoy the game!   

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