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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Posts about Wild game coverage

Big guns all show up as Wild rallies past Detroit for overtime victory

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: March 23, 2014 - 10:49 PM

As much angst as has surrounded the Wild lately, just imagine what it must be like to be the Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars these days.

Imagine what it must feel like to have to chase 7th-place Minnesota when in the past nine games, the Wild has played in five 3-point games (overtimes/shootouts) and won two other games in regulation. So that’s points in seven of the past nine games (3-2-4).

Prior to a 4-3 regulation loss at Dallas, the Wild won five in a row and was 9-2-2 in a stretch of 13 games leading into the trade deadline, so we can all say what we want about the Wild, but it isn’t making it easy on the Coyotes and Stars.

Tonight, the Wild absolutely got what it deserved – a victory by a 4-3 score on Matt Moulson’s overtime winner.

Read the gamer for all the details, but the big guns all came through.

The gist of the game if you didn’t see it, and I know this may sound like a broken record, but the Wild dominated the first period, looked better than it has in weeks, put forth an aggressive forecheck, jumped out to an 8-1 shot lead and next thing you know, it’s down 2-0 by the 20-minute mark.

It had to be unbelievably dejecting for a team with so much pressure on it.

But during the first intermission, coach Mike Yeo told his players to just stick with it, to play its game, to not let frustration change that game. They didn't. Just rewatch the forechecks, sustained pressure, the net-crashing in the third period.

Jason Pominville made it 2-1 with his 27th goal with 8:03 left in the second. In the third, Charlie Coyle tied it and Zach Parise gave the Wild a 3-2 lead just 1:45 later. Tomas Tatar stole a puck from Parise, then scored a great goal with a move to the inside that fooled Ryan Suter for the tying goal, but in overtime, Coyle made an outstanding move to exit the zone and Moulson tipped Jonas Brodin’s shot for his second career winner.

Suter had two assists, as did Mikko Koivu, who won 12 of 15 faceoffs, stole the puck and put together an incredible forecheck (just watch the replay of how dominant he was on this shift, although he got away with a slash of Nik Kronwall's stick) that led to Coyle’s goal. Koivu was tremendous in the third, looking like the old Koivu on the forecheck. At stride in the neutral zone, I think he’s still laboring on that surgically-repaired ankle. But that certainly didn’t hold him back in the third.

Coyle was plus-2, had two points, scored goals in consecutive games for the first time in his career, had three shots and five hits. Moulson has four goals and four assists in 10 games with the Wild.

The Wild allowed 16 shots to the Red Wings, the second-fewest shots Detroit has had at home since 1991, according to the Wild’s PR staff. The Wild is now 8-4-3 on the road in the past 15 games, which bodes well when one considers that after Wednesday’s home game against Vancouver, the Wild hits the road for games at St. Louis, Phoenix, L.A. and Chicago.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 13 saves. By the way, not counting the shootout, I believe seven of the nine goals he has allowed in four starts with the Wild were blocker side.

Big for the Wild to actually get that extra point past regulation. This is a team that had lost its last four shootouts/overtimes.

Also impressive, the Wild had this much energy and legs in a second of a back-to-back and fifth game in seven nights.

The Wild is off Monday, so likely no blog. I grabbed a lot of leftovers postgame to write a follow.

I’ll be on KFAN at 11:45 a.m. on Monday and on KFAN from the penalty box starting at 9:55 a.m. Wednesday.

Talk to you Tuesday.

Yeo: This is not, "Oh no, here we go again!"

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: March 22, 2014 - 8:19 PM

Apologies for the late blog, but I needed to speed through my game story and notebook and hustle to the airport for a 7 p.m. flight.

Greetings from the friendly skies.

One piece of news: Defenseman Clayton Stoner left tonight’s 3-2 loss to Detroit with about five or six minutes left. He limped down the runway. I didn’t see what happened, but Stoner’s been limping around the past three or four days, has had a part of his lower body wrapped with ice the past few days and probably aggravated it.

Either he didn’t make the trip to Detroit or is a question mark, but defenseman Jon Blum didn’t play the third period for Iowa tonight and is being called up (Remember, Keith Ballard is hurt). I think the plan was to call up Steve Kampfer, but he actually got injured in tonight’s Iowa game.

Tonight’s loss to Detroit was so typical of the Wild. Play an even first period, leave 1-1. Outplay Detroit in the second, leave down 2-1. Stoner turned the puck over, then reacted by taking a high-sticking penalty. Kyle Brodziak actually makes a great play to get a puck on the PK and promptly hands its back to Detroit with a slow clear. Not long after the giveaway, David Legwand scores a goal that Darcy Kuemper had no chance of stopping. Third period, Charlie Coyle, who had a great game today, draws a penalty shot and ties the game 15 seconds in by using the same slick move he used to win that shootout in Winnipeg around Thanksgiving.

And five minutes later, Gustav Nyquist, the hottest goal scorer in the NHL since Jan. 20 with 16 goals, makes a great play to skate through the Wild’s defense before ripping a shot off the post and in.

Wild draws a power play late, can’t score on it and falls 3-2. It has now won 2 of 9 games since the trade deadline (2-3-4).

After the game though, I think Mike Yeo made a big mistake. He came to the press conference ready to paint a rosy picture on what’s going on. He’s well aware fans and media always pin late-season swoons on Yeo’s Wild. He’s very sensitive to this analysis, especially since if you actually look at the Wild’s history, late-season swoons preceded him.

Nevertheless, Yeo opened the presser with the statement: “We’ve got to find a way to win that game.”

That opened the door for me to respond, “But you’ve got two wins in your last nine. You’ve got to get some wins here, right?”

He responded, “How did I know that was coming?” and proceeded with a two-minute soliloquy about how this is not another late-season stumble and this is a different team and had some NHL-style math on a yellow sheet of paper to show that things aren’t as bad as they seem.

“You could also say we’ve got a point in nine of our last 11 games,” said Yeo, staring at a yellow piece of paper. “You could also say that was our first regulation loss in 11 games at home (7-0-3 since Jan. 14). You could also say that we’re 7-3-4 in our last 14 games. So, of course, are we sitting here and saying that we’re completely on top of it? No, definitely not.

“There’s a lot of things that we have to do better. [Penalty kill] is number 1 on our list. And finding ways to win a lot of these one-goal games. … We’re not completely happy or satisfied, believe me. But at the same time, what I hope is we don’t try to turn this into a big story of, ‘Oh no, here we go again.’ Because I can tell you that inside the room, we don’t have that feeling. I can tell you that we’re a different team.”

Basically though, he turned the narrative of a tough loss game story into an entire game story reminding folks of the late-season stumbles the past two seasons and how what’s going on now should not be considered, “oh no, here we go again.” I can honestly tell you, I wasn’t going this route with my gamer until his spiel.

I just don’t know what he was trying to accomplish. Convince the fans? Convince the media? Convince himself? Convince the players? If his intention was to stop the outside noise of a potential late-season implosion, to me, he made it a focal point, he made it the story.

And frankly now, he better hope his players prove him right.

We’ve written so much lately about young kids like Coyle and Nino Niederreiter and how they need to step up. They did tonight. Niederreiter was better. Coyle was tremendous, and in fact, to me set the bar about what he can bring every single night. He was a force tonight and was elevated back to the Matt Moulson-Mikko Koivu line because of it.

But Yeo has given tons of rope to veterans, especially Brodziak. Tonight, Brodziak was on the ice for all three goals, losing the faceoff on Detroit’s first power-play goal and turning it over before Detroit’s second.

We can all accept that despite the glorious chances Brodziak gets almost nightly that he is not a scorer. But if you’re not going to score, you certainly can’t be costing goals. His turnover in Boston three games ago led to the Bruins’ winner in that game.

Dany Heatley, one game after being a minus-2 in New Jersey, had one shot and was a non-factor.

The Wild needs more from those guys.

The Wild’s penalty kill is killing them lately. Yeo even volunteered that the penalty kill is 68 percent over this stretch. Can’t win games like that, not when you’re as offensively-challenged as the Wild continues to be.

The common theme is not winning draws and not getting clears when they get the puck. Yeo said that needs to stop.

I thought the power play looked much better today. Mikko Koivu was even shooting the puck for a change and scored a goal. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t score on the last one, but it definitely had a different look and feel on the man advantage than it did in recent games.

Kuemper has given up three or more goals in four of his past six starts. In one of those other two, he blew a 2-0 shootout lead. Hopefully he’s not cracking here (there have been some stoppable goals allowed lately, like those goals in the Edmonton game, the first goal in Boston, arguably the third tonight), because again, the Wild doesn’t score enough to absorb average goaltending.

Anyway, big game Sunday in Detroit. The Wild needs to rebound, to get some W’s. But they’re going into a building where Detroit is 8-0-2 in the past 10 games since Jan. 20.

Yeo reminded again, that this is a team that doesn’t want to just eke into the playoffs, they want to do damage once they’re there.

“We’re in a different spot, we’re a different team, we’re a confident team, and we feel good where we’re going,” he said. “We just have to jumpstart things.”

Dallas is six points back now.

Wild steals point out of New Jersey; Parise on his return; Prosser booted from game

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: March 21, 2014 - 5:40 AM

Honestly, I’ll have to watch this game again to try to figure out how the heck the Wild clawed back for a point. I still didn’t get a chance to watch every goal or much of the third period and overtime in the first place because I was punching frantically at my keyboard trying to rework my file-at-the-gun story.

But needless to say, to get a point out of game where you could play that poorly in the first two periods is quite the coup. Big point, too, because Dallas, which is suddenly struggling, lost in Philly, so the Wild’s now eight up on a playoff spot.

If Phoenix hangs on to beat Florida, the Wild’s lead on the first wildcard spot will be down to four. Big three-game stretch coming up. Home and home with Detroit, which is ravaged with injuries, and then Vancouver, which is in a tumble.

The Wild then hits the road for a tough trip: at St. Louis in the second of a back-to-back, at Phoenix (massive game), at Los Angeles and at Chicago.

OK, where to start?

Just a terrible first two periods. The Wild couldn’t get anything accomplished. Its execution was terrible, it turned pucks over, it was in chip-it-out mode. Other than on the power play, the Wild couldn’t sustain any offensive pressure.

So many players had tough nights. Dany Heatley was minus-2. Nino Niederreiter was minus-1 and showed why the Wild is not yet comfortable putting him on the power play on a consistent basis. His wall play on the power play needs so much work, and he flashed that in the offensive and defensive zone on Mark Fayne’s shortie (although let’s be honest, that was a collective effort because five guys were on one side of the ice).

Jason Pominville’s six-game point streak came to an end and something was bigtime off with him tonight. From start to finish, he was fighting the puck, whiffing on them, shanking them, etc. Mikko Koivu, very tough game on the power play, and on the play that led to the OT winner, Koivu and Pominville teamed up by swinging and missing on pucks in the offensive zone. That led to Jersey’s quick counter and then mayhem before Andy Greene lost Koivu for the winner.

BUT, the Wild somehow rallied for a huge point. Zach Parise scored 21 seconds into the third on a power play (13th, which is tied for second in the NHL). Then, after Jared Spurgeon, who rarely takes penalties (26 PIM in 218 career games), took a minor, Jaromir Jagr made it 3-1.

But the Wild stayed with it and Mikael Granlund and Matt Cooke scored 4:50 apart, Cooke’s tying goal coming with 4:32 left on a deflection of Marco Scandella’s rocket.

On the difference between the first two periods and the third, Parise, who knows a thing or two about the Devils, said, “That’s the style of hockey they play. They keep the puck along their walls. They grind, they grind, they grind, they don’t put the puck in the middle of the ice, so they play low-risk hockey. In the first two periods, we didn’t skate, we didn’t chase down the puck. We kind of played right into their hands into a slow hockey game.”

In the third? Cooke said, “If you’re willing to play a slow game, then you’re feeling right into their hands.” So Cooke said the Wild began skating, getting pucks deep, got pucks to the net and they got fortunate.

“Realization that we need to skate,” Cooke said.

“When you’re faced with a two-goal deficit in the third period and you battle back to get a point on the road, you have to accept that,” coach Mike Yeo said. “I’m not sitting here saying that we’re in love with our game, but it’s positive the way the guys found a way to get that point.”

Still, Yeo was displeased with the Wild’s execution, wall play and puck support in the first 40 minutes. The lack of execution “led to a lot of turnovers, a lot of time spent in our own zone.”

Also, the Wild played with five defensemen for the final 42 minutes because Nate Prosser was assessed a five-minute elbowing penalty and game misconduct for a forearm to Tim Sestito’s face. Sestito charged in, Prosser turned with the puck out of the corner, spotted him and reacted quickly to defend himself.

The center-ice ref called it an elbowing major.

“He was taking a large run at Pross and Pross was trying to play the puck,” said Yeo, who interrupted himself and said, “I don’t like seeing anybody get hurt.”

If you go by previous NHL decisions, it probably shouldn’t result in supplemental discipline for Prosser if the NHL determines Prosser was protecting himself.

Earlier this season, when the NHL didn’t discipline Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn for launching an elbow into Cooke’s face, the league called it a “protective maneuver.”  There are times, the league says, where “defensive contact to the head” is permissible if a player skating with the puck is trying to protect himself from a check.

We’ll see Friday. Remember, Keith Ballard has a groin injury, so if Prosser is suspended, the Wild would have to call up a defenseman IF Ballard can’t play. By the way, if the NHL doesn't suspend Prosser, it doesn't mean it was the wrong call on the ice. 

The league's standards for supplemental discipline are not the same as standards for on ice penalties. 

Interesting game for Parise. Booed during warmups, and there were some cruel signs wrapped around the glass. He joked that he only read the “good ones.”

He took a penalty, only his second in the past 17 games, in the first period and was stuffed by Cory Schneider on a shorthanded breakaway.

“The first period, he’s probably thinking, ‘Man, this couldn’t go any worse,’” Yeo said. “To see him get rewarded there in the third period, for us it was great because we know what this game meant to him.”

Parise said, “I was expecting the boos. I don’t have any hard feelings toward them. I understand. I wasn’t expecting any cheers. That’s fine.”

Said Devils coach Pete DeBoer, “I understand the fans disappointment with him leaving. I also know we should all be very thankful for the time he put in. I know I feel privileged to have coached him. I hadn’t watched him in a while. You realize seeing him tonight why he’s so special. He’s always around the net, winning battles, in the crease. He’s a special player.”

The Wild is 7-2-5 in the past 14 games. So, in one sense, that’s big this time of year that the Wild has gotten points in 12 of the past 14 games. But of its past five losses, the Wild has lost four via shootout or overtime.

“Who knows, down the road, it could be important points,” said Parise. “Little bit of silver lining, but we’ve got to turn that corner and start winning some of these games that go into extra time.”

Said Matt Moulson, “Coming down the stretch, we want two points every game. You never want to lose games. You’ve got to find a way to win. These are how playoff games are played. They’re tight all the time. You have to battle for every inch.”

Said Charlie Coyle, “We didn’t start off the first two periods like we wanted to. That wasn’t our best game, or our best start either. But to start like that and come back and get that point, that was huge. But we can’t be satisfied with those late starts like that. We’ve got to come here to play and play a full 60.”

By the way, the Heatley-Coyle-Nino line, not so good tonight.

But, the Wild got the point against a desperate Devils team, went 1-1-1 on the road trip (.500, 3 out of 6 points) and keep inching toward its second consecutive playoff berth.

Early flight. Talk to you after practice Friday.

Koivu becomes all-time Wild leading scorer; Moulson helps lead rout of Isles; Zucker likely out for season

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: March 18, 2014 - 10:34 PM

Oh, the genius of Mike Yeo.

With the Wild coach getting slaughtered on Twitter and on the blogs and I’m sure the message boards for doing the unthinkable, scratching former Gopher Erik Haula, Yeo’s shuffling of the second, third and fourth lines helped trigger the team tying a franchise record for margin of victory with tonight’s 6-0 beatdown of my childhood team, the New York Islanders.

Haula’s scratch surprised many of us. Heck, I came to the rink this morning thinking he’d be promoted to the third line. But Haula sat, and Yeo explains his reasoning below.

But like Yeo scripted it, the first, second and third lines scored with Matt Moulson leading the charge with the winning goal, another goal and three points in his return to Long Island. The former Isle scored 118 goals in orange and blue.

Fans treated him unbelievably, cheering him during a video tribute, after each of his goals and as his name was announced as the game’s first star. They also chanted, “WE WANT MOULSON!!!” the last five minutes and “SNOW MUST GO!!!” That’s a message to GM Garth Snow, who traded Moulson, who wanted to re-sign with the Islanders, for Thomas Vanek, who didn’t want to re-sign with the Islanders and eventually had to be dealt to Montreal the same day Moulson was dealt to Minnesota.

Read the gamer for all the details and quotes, especially on Moulson. I'll be on KFAN at 9 a.m., by the way.

Mikko Koivu became the Wild’s all-time leading scorer tonight by assisting on three goals to pass Marian Gaborik with 438 points. He had two assists in seven games since ankle surgery before tonight and was outstanding. He was plus-3.

Justin Fontaine, recently scratched for five straight, scored a goal and assist. Mikael Granlund scored a goal on assists by Jason Pominville (six-game point streak) and Zach Parise. Clayton Stoner scored an awesome breakaway goal coming out of the penalty box. When he entered the room after his postgame interview with Fox Sports North’s Kevin Gorg, the room went nuts.

“Anytime a guy like me or a guy that doesn’t score a lot of goals – like [Nate] Pross[er] game-winners -- cool feeling. It’s cool when guys get excited for you because maybe you don’t get the glory as much. It’s cool to get that for a change.”

On the goal, Stoner said, “It happens really fast. I was trying to get my feet going right away so that guy didn’t catch me. I’m not the fastest guy on the team.”

Jared Spurgeon scored a goal and was plus-4. Ryan Suter got to play only 23:15, a season-low, and was plus-4.

On a late power play, Yeo didn’t want to run up the score, so he put three non power-play guys out with Matt Moulson and Jonas Brodin – Matt Cooke, Kyle Brodziak and Marco Scandella. Cooke and Brodziak assisted on Moulson’s second goal, and the sixth of the game.

It was the sixth six-goal victory in Wild history and fifth 6-0 win in Wild history (third on the road).

Ilya Bryzgalov was outstanding, especially early when the Wild kind of dipped its toe in the game. Yeo felt the Wild was tight early, either from playing in Boston the night before or from the nerves of the recent slide.

But Bryzgalov made 16 of his 36 saves in the first period and recorded his first win and shutout with the Wild.

Yeo didn’t commit to Bryzgalov starting Thursday at New Jersey. I jokingly said, “But that’s your rule (to start the same goalie after a shutout).” He said back, “Not rule. Guideline.”

So we’ll see if he comes back with Darcy Kuemper or Bryzgalov Thursday. The Wild has Wednesday off, so we won’t know until Thursday morning.

Some Yeo quotes:

On Fontaine: “He showed a lot. We’ll have to make sure he stays on it. He’s got quick feet but he makes quick decisions. To play with guys like that (Moulson and Koivu), you need skill but you have to think the game at a high level. He showed he’s capable of that tonight.”

On Moulson: “This is a guy that’s obviously very, very well respected. You see what the crowd’s doing in a game like that. I thought that was very classy of their crowd and reflects what kind of person this is, what he’s meant to this organization.”

On Stoner’s breakaway goal and the late power-play goal with Brodziak and Cooke out there, Yeo joked, “We might have been making some wrong reads on who should be going in the shootout and who should be playing on the power play.”

Yeo said the Wild had real good focus, played for each other and did the right things and trusted the result would come if they did those right things. He said that could have been tough because the team played a good game in Boston but lost 4-1. He said it was impressive how the team bounced back.

On sitting Erik Haula: “That was a very difficult choice. We’re real happy with Haulsy right now. Let’s be honest though, there’s a difference when you’re playing on the third line compared to when you’re playing on the fourth line. You’re playing against top players (in other words, Yeo is trying to ease Haula into this season and he doesn’t feel he’s ready yet for that type of responsibility). A lot of people are saying take Brodzy out, but Brodzy, like we wouldn’t be where we’re at right now without him, too. So, get [Brodziak] into a spot where he could be successful. I think that was important. And, we’ll call upon Haulsy. We’ve got a bunch of guys here and everybody’s going to have to be important. We’ll call on him again and make sure he’s ready. But it’s about trying to get guys into certain spots so they can be successful.”

Yeo said he didn’t like the bottom three lines recently because they had no identity. These lines tonight, he felt there was better balance.

Koivu on breaking Gaborik’s record: “It means a lot. Being able to be in one organization for a lot of years, I played with a lot of great players. I think more than anything you look back, there’s been ups and downs, like in sports there always is. It’s a great feeling. I’m passing Gabby. He’s a pretty good scorer, so I did something right.”

In injury news, not good news on Jason Zucker. GM Chuck Fletcher said he will likely need additional knee surgery and be out for the season. He reaggravated his knee training, Fletcher said. Fletcher said it was supposed to be a minor injury when he underwent surgery in February. Now it's not.

If it's related, Zucker's tweet tonight makes it sound more serious than Fletcher's letting on.

Lastly, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Wild is among many NHL teams pursuing St. Lawrence University undrafted brothers Greg and Matt Carey.

Greg Carey, a senior, is the second-leading Division I scorer in the country with 57 points (18 goals). He’s considered an average skater but pure sniper. Matt Carey, a freshman, is said to play more of a pro style but is raw. He’s tied for 38th in the country with 37 points (18 goals).

Also, according to sources, the Wild and Boston Bruins are also among many teams after Swedish defenseman Christian Folin, who plays at Massachusetts-Lowell. Many scouts say Folin has the ability to step right into an NHL lineup.

The Wild had two former undrafted college free agents in its lineup tonight -- Fontaine and Prosser.

Like I said, no practice Wednesday. If the Wild signs any of these guys, I'll toss up a blog. Otherwise, talk Thursday. Zach Parise Night Thursday in Newark!

Stop the presses: The Wild's having trouble scoring!

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: March 17, 2014 - 10:29 PM

When you don’t score easily, the room for error is so miniscule, and that was on display again by the Wild in tonight’s 4-1 loss at Boston.

Read the gamer for all the details and the better quotes. Just a quick blog because I need to get some shut-eye before an early flight to New Yawk.

The Wild came out the right way, and as Bruins forward Chris Kelly said, the Wild was handling the puck well, skated well, “they were moving their feet extremely well and we weren’t.”

In a scoreless first, the Wild outchanced the Bruins, but Tuukka Rask put on a display that continued in the second.

But with the Wild taking the play to Boston, Jarome Iginla took a shot that nicked Jonas Brodin’s hip. Darcy Kuemper seemed to lose the puck until it dipped in his crease. By then it was too late.

Eight minutes later, Nino Niederreiter stole the puck near the Wild blue line. He gave it to Kyle Brodziak, but he didn’t get the puck out and Carl Soderberg took the puck right off his stick.

To compound problems, every Wild defender watched Soderberg skate around the net. That left Loui Eriksson wide open, and the prolific third-line connected when Soderberg fed Eriksson for the easy 2-0 lead.

Jason Pominville scored late in the second to make it a game, but the proficient Bruins showed how balanced they are when Reilly Smith scored off Patrice Bergeron’s rebound in the third.

Look at Boston’s balanced scoring, look at the Bruins’ plus-minuses. They just roll line after line at you and any line can contribute.

The Wild is the absolute opposite. The Parise-Granlund-Pominville line has scored 14 goals and 37 points in the past 13 games. The rest of the team has 17 goals in that span.

This team just hasn’t found the right mix since Mikko Koivu’s return from an ankle injury and Matt Moulson’s addition. The Wild is 1-2-3 since Moulson’s arrival, 2-2-3 since Koivu’s return. The offense that was supposed to improve with Moulson and Koivu in the lineup has dipped from 25th to 28th in the NHL.

Tonight, the Moulson-Koivu-Charlie Coyle line had four or five exceptional scoring chances.

The line didn’t score and finished minus-2.

So Yeo, who has kept the lines pretty consistent of late, indicated after this one that the Wild coaching staff will look at the lines tonight and may come up with “one, two, three” new lines Tuesday at the Islanders.

Honestly, one option would be to break apart the prolific Granlund line to spread out the wealth a bit and get a new mix because we have seen the Moulson-Koivu and Cooke-Brodziak duos aren’t scoring with either Charlie Coyle or Nino Niederreiter on the right. It’s really too bad Jason Zucker is hurt. This team could use some speed and energy.

But that would probably be beyond crazy to break apart the only line that’s creating something consistently every game.

“That’s the tricky part because they’ve been going so well,” Yeo said. “It’s up to us to try to figure out the right match.”

I’d start off by flipping Kyle Brodziak and Erik Haula. For a team that wanted to get three lines who can score, it’s not even getting two. At least the Koivu line created a bunch of chances tonight.

“We all have to contribute,” Coyle said. “We all know that. We generate chances, but it comes down to putting the puck in the net.”

Tough game. The Wild certainly worked hard and did a lot of things well. But it wasn’t sustained because when you have so much trouble scoring, I think there’s just a natural dip when the other team scores sometimes so easily.

As usual, the Wild was up against a great goaltending display. Rask made some awesome saves early and late. Sixteen of his 33 saves came in the third.

Onto Long Island. Ilya Bryzgalov should be in goal. This is a must win. The Isles have won twice in regulation at home since January.

The only game going right now that affects the Wild is Phoenix at LA. After 1, Coyotes lead 2-1. I have an early flight. Later.

Said defenseman Keith Ballard, “I don’t know if there’s a formula to score more goals. It always seems to fall back to get people to the net, create traffic and score on your second and third opportunities.”



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