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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Detroit Red Wings 6, Wild 2; Harding, Kobasew injured; Legal vs. illegal hit video

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: March 26, 2010 - 10:27 PM

I'm doubting we'll see Josh Harding again this season. Valiantly or stubbornly (depending how you want to look at it, or both), Harding, whom I reported last Sunday aggravated his pre-Olympics hip injury last Friday in Columbus, tried to play through the injury tonight even though it bothered him starting in warmups.

The Wild didn't help him out, taking three minors in the first 11 1/2 minutes. Even though the Wild did a great job killing them off, Harding spent the entire first period going up and down in his butterfly and it was clear it was taking a toll. But when the injury's recurrence was completely evident to me came when Marty Havlat drew a minor late in the first.

Harding took off for the bench and hit the brakes immediately. He couldn't do it. The Wild ended the period scoreless, and I was shocked when Harding came out to start the second. In the first minute, there was scramble and Harding couldn't get up. He finally did, skated to the blue line during a stoppage to say something to referee Dan O'Rourke, O'Rourke looked at the bench and then Harding skated back to his crease.

The rest of the period, he could barely get up any time he went down. Yet, coach Todd Richards never considered taking him out. Then, two quick goals, then a third, then a fourth. Here was Richards' chance to take him out. He never did.

Harding said he never considered allowing Niklas Backstrom to start because he played the night before and he's dealing with a groin problem.

Harding said, “Never. Never. Backy played last night. He did an awesome job. I feel terrible right now that he had to play the third period. It’s not a good feeling when you throw your goalie partner to the wolves.”
 
Richards said, "We talked with him before the game started, and he said he was good to go, so you have to trust your guys. You ask questions, and they know their bodies best.”
 
But still, as I wrote in the gamer, it was so visible throughout that Harding was hurt and in pain. Asked if then he has to make the decision for Harding, Richards said, “Nothing was told to me. Again as a coach, you have to assume everything’s OK until something is said.”
 
Harding knows what's wrong with him, but he's not saying. Asked if it's his labrum (Backstrom had a torn labrum last April that required surgery), Harding said, "No comment."
 
Also, Chuck Kobasew tweaked his knee tonight early in the second period. It's not known if it's the left or right. If it's the left, it's the same knee in which he suffered a sprained ACL and MCL earlier this year, the one he said as recently as Sunday was not healed. So we'll see if he plays again.
 
Now that the season's all but over, we'll see if some of these banged-up players decide to take some time off and heal up. It's impressive they want to play for the team and their teammates, but at some point, what are they proving? If it means further damage on serious injuries, is it really worth it?
 
When does GM Chuck Fletcher have to step in? I get the whole thing that players know their bodies best, but at some point the team has to protect the player from themselves. Not to be crass because these are human beings and not oil drums, but these players are assets, too.
 
These players are paid handsomely and I'm sure the Wild would like them healthy for next season. In addition, if Harding has to have offseason surgery because of this ailment, what does that do to his trade value?
 
As for the game, the Wild took a ton of penalties, and after playing the night before, it just wore em down. Still, they survived the first well, but then unraveled in the second. The turning point came with Detroit up 2-0. Antti Miettinen, second on the team in missed nets this season, created a breakaway for himself but then fired over the net. Then the Wild drew a 44-second 5-on-3, and instead of scoring, they gave up a league-leading 11th shortie after the first detroit penalty expired.
 
There is no practice Saturday. Rachel Blount has practice Sunday. Because of the condensed schedule this month, it will be the Wild's first full practice since March 6 -- and that was a 20-minute practice in Edmonton.
 
Lastly, if you want to see the video players saw that will now distinguish legal vs. illegal hits when it comes to supplemental discipline this season in addition to penalties starting next season, here's a link.

Wild center James Sheppard made one of the nine clips of "legal" hits for clobbering Colorado's David Jones. By the way, Sheppard did get an assist tonight for his first point since Dec. 11 on an Owen Nolan bouncer from the wall. As a Twitter person cleverly wrote, 8-ball, corner pocket.

If there's callups or injury updates Saturday, I'll update the blog.

Oh, here's that Andrew Ebbett note I mentioned this morning. I had to cut it from the paper.

Andrew Ebbett said there was good reason for his tough start Thursday in Philadelphia. Whether it was food poisoning or something else, he spent the game vomiting.
   Two Ebbett turnovers led to Flyers goals 39 seconds apart and he lost the puck on a shorthanded breakaway.
   “We’re still trying to figure out what it was, but the two bad plays and blowing the breakaway didn’t help,” Ebbett said, laughing. “After the turnovers, I was thought maybe I should get off right then, but we were already low with Mikko [Koivu] out. I couldn’t find it in myself not to play. So I just made simply plays.”

I also cut the Cam Barker note from the paper I mentioned this morning, but I'll try to get it back in over the next few days.

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