Without further ado, here’s another blogbag from questions asked on Russo’s Rants:
JJcote21: Are owner Craig Leipold and GM Chuck Fletcher working on an extension for coach Mike Yeo or are they just waiting for the season to play out?
Russo: One source says there are discussions going on, another says there have been no recent discussions. Yeo and his assistants are all in the last year of their contracts, so everyone prefers to keep this hush-hush as to avoid a potential distraction. Upstairs, every indication is the plan is to eventually extend Yeo.
Quiltrb: What is Zach Parise referring to when he stated the team was “cheating” during their recent struggles?
Russo: Instead of getting pucks deep behind opposing defensemen, the Wild was forcing passes, turning pucks over at both blue lines and not supporting each other on the ice. If you’ve noticed lately, Parise and others will sacrifice offense if it means being the “third guy” high in the offensive zone. That has led to fewer odd-man rushes. Also, Parise felt Wild players were turning away from checks and not forechecking hard enough.
Wildgopher27: Chances of Erik Haula staying when Mikael Granlund comes back?
Russo: Depends on the team’s injury situation at the time and lineup decisions. If Haula is seeing limited minutes or is in and out of the lineup, the Wild would be likely to send him back to Iowa.
Nickinny: How concerned is the team about Josh Harding’s history of sustaining little injuries on a regular basis?
Russo: Very. He has had several over the years, which is why it’s important Niklas Backstrom finds his game so the team doesn’t have to run Harding into the ground.
Pihlstb: Are we going to see any of Iowa Wild defensemen with the big club?
Russo: With Matt Dumba heading to world juniors and it being up in the air if he returns to the big club or Red Deer afterward, Jonathon Blum, who has played 91 NHL games for Nashville, is next on the depth chart. Steve Kampfer also is having a good season.
April24: Are there any plans for the Wild to have its own practice facility?
Russo: The Wild is working toward having a quasi-practice facility at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina, but only for days Xcel Energy Center is booked.
Trevor89: How has Brett Bulmer been looking this year down in Iowa?
Russo: He has six goals and two assists in 18 games and by all accounts is developing defensively and, most importantly, has been healthy.
Tom In Section 219: Can Ryan Suter win the Norris by averaging 30 minutes per game but only collecting 50 points?
Russo: Depends on his value to the Wild and where the Wild ends up. As of now, my 1-2 are Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larson and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo, and they’re barely top-10 in defensemen scoring. Too many writers vote based on points.
Andrew91: Has Matt Cooke’s solid performance silenced his critics?
Russo: It has me. I see a half-dozen examples a game where the player most considered a head hunter has completely adjusted his game.
Milesmike: I’m looking for a good hockey road trip. What’s your favorite NHL city to visit?
Russo: Vancouver is incredible or one of the California road swings. I still love Montreal, New York and Chicago.
NHL short takes
On the hot seat
Islanders coach Jack Capuano’s seat is scorching hot. For a team that traded a boatload to pick up Thomas Vanek because its start wasn’t good enough, the Islanders were winless in eight games overall before Saturday’s game in Los Angeles and 0-8 on the road since Nov. 1.
Former Wild forwards Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Cal Clutterbuck have struggled. Bouchard was tied for sixth with nine points and a minus-8 in 27 games, and Clutterbuck was tied for 13th with five points.
If Capuano is fired, two candidates include former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette and former Hurricanes and Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice.
Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said Henrik Lundqvist’s seven-year, $59.5 million deal with the Rangers “sets the standards” for goalies and may look “like a pretty average price down the line” as the salary cap is expected to rise over the years.
Miller has met with new Sabres President Pat LaFontaine about the future but said, “I’ve heard a lot of talk over my time. It’s about actions at this point. I’m not going to sit around and let promises get thrown around.”