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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Spurgeon misses Wednesday's practice; Other Wild tidbits

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: January 23, 2013 - 3:28 PM
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon missed practice Wednesday after taking that Kevin Klein blast off the foot in the first period of Tuesday’s game against Nashville.
 
Spurgeon returned midway through the second period and x-rays were negative after the game. He’s sore, so the Wild gave Spurgeon the day off from practice. Coach Mike Yeo hopes he will be available for Thursday’s practice and play Friday in Detroit.
 
If there’s ever a time for the Wild to win in Detroit, this is it. The 1-2 Red Wings are ripe for the picking because they are decimated with blue-line injuries.
 
Inspirational leader Nicklas Lidstrom is retired, Ian White just underwent surgery today for a laceration on his leg. Jonathan Ericsson is hurt. Carlo Colaiacovo is hurt. Jakub Kindl could be close to returning, but the Red Wings just had to sign Kent Huskins. Also, forwards Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson and Darren Helm are hurt.
 
The Red Wings, who haven’t missed the playoffs since 1990, could be in trouble.
 
Wild notes:
 
-- Yeo on the game last night: “The game was right there for us,” referring to the fact the Wild played great defensively and simply didn’t capitalize on its chances or passed up shots when it was pressing.
 
“I thought if we took the lead, it would have been real tough for them, especially the way we were playing defensively,” Yeo said.
 
-- Today’s practice was almost all small area drills as the Wild worked on individual skills and fundamentals. Yeo said because of the condensed training camp, he feels the Wild spend so much time working on the defensive and team side of the game, they’ve almost neglected the individual skills.
 
So today was all about reps of “doing things over and over again so hopefully they find themselves in that position in the game and are ready to execute the right way. … The individual skills, we haven’t spent, I don’t think, probably enough time” because training camp was a “matter of priority.”
 
So today was about “helping the guys out offensively,” Yeo said.
 
-- Yeo was real happy with the play of Mikael Granlund last game and the offensive-zone time created the last few games by the second line, which includes Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi.
 
But he will talk to the line of getting more of a middle threat. Too often all three players are working the puck around with no threat of scoring because nobody goes to the net.
 
He is not looking to mess with the lines yet because he is happy with the No. 1 line, which is creating chance after chance, and the third line.
 
“We won two games and we could have easily won that game last night,” Yeo said. “I’d like to give them a chance to go back at it next game. I don’t think it’s time to mess with things too much.”
 
-- If Spurgeon can’t play, Matt Dumba is waiting in the wings. But, Jonas Brodin is playing his first game for Houston tonight at Milwaukee after not playing since early November. While it may be too early to assume he can jump into an NHL game, he looked awesome in training camp and is very close. So if for some reason Spurgeon can’t play in Detroit, it wouldn’t shock me if the Wild called up Brodin instead of playing Dumba. Total gut feeling by me.
 
“He looked really good against guys like Mikko and Zach, so if you do that, you can do that against anybody,” Yeo said of Brodin.
 
Still, again, Yeo made it very clear he thinks Spurgeon should be ready to play the Red Wings. Rachel Blount has practice Thursday, so she will update you on whether Spurgeon practices.
 
-- Will Yeo return with Niklas Backstrom at Detroit or play Josh Harding? He said he doesn’t know – with a big smile on his face – because he obviously does. Maybe he’ll reveal his decision Thursday.
 
My guess is Harding starts because not only did he shut out Dallas, as I always joke, he seems to have been designated the Detroit starter.
 
“He was last year, so you guys can speculate all you want,” Yeo said, laughing.
 
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