This is Michael Russo's 18th year covering the National Hockey League. He's covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005 following 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. Michael 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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In other Wild news, hard-luck, oft-injured Wild first-round pick Tyler Cuma will miss up to a month with a broken foot. This kid honestly has had no chance due to all the injuries.
Josh Harding will be in net for the Wild tonight as it tries to sweep back-to-back home games. In town though is the formidable 6-0 Chicago Blackhawks.
Harding is 6-3 all-time vs. the Blackhawks with a 2.32 goals against average and .930 save percentage. He is 3-0 at home against them with a 0.40 goals against average and .984 save percentage.
Matt Kassian and Nate Prosser are scratched. Corey Crawford should be in Chicago's net.
This will end a short two-game homestand before leaving tomorrow for Anaheim, then Phoenix.
The Wild again will be looking for secondary scoring. Eleven of Minnesota's 16 goals have been scored by Zach Parise, Dany Heatley and Mikko Koivu. Tom Gilbert, who scored his first home goal as a member of the Wild in yesterday's win over Columbus, and Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who scored yesterday's winner, have two each and Mikael Granlund has one.
Matt Cullen has been particularly snakebit. Just great chances the last three games, but yesterday was by far his best of the season.
He joked today: "I remember when I went to Italy [during the 2004-05 lockout] and I had a Swedish coach and I didn't score in my first four games. The Swedish coach was like, 'It's just like a ketchup bottle. You keep squeezing and squeezing and once it finally comes out, it all comes out.' He said it with a Swedish accent," Cullen said, laughing. "You just have to believe in what you're doing."
Mike Yeo said against the mighty Blackhawks, the Wild will need all 18 skaters going and "no weak links."
Jared Spurgeon (foot) did skate in sweats today, so he may at least come on the road trip again.
Talk to you tonight.
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