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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Koivu, Granlund face an old foe tonight in Anaheim

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: February 1, 2013 - 3:04 PM

The Wild, 2-0-1 in its past three, opens a two-game road trip tonight at 9 p.m. CT in Anaheim at the beautiful Honda Center.

Niklas Backstrom, who stopped 28 of 28 shots in relief of Josh Harding on Wednesday against Chicago, gets the nets against a 30-year-old NHL rookie named Viktor Fasth.

Fasth, a two-time Swedish Elite Goalie of the Year, was the goaltender Finland lit up for six goals in the 2011 world championships gold-medal game.

The Wild's Mikko Koivu captained that team, which included Wild second-line center Mikael Granlund.

Fasth is 1-0 in one start with a 1.85 goals against average and .905 save percentage. That was a 3-2 shootout win over Nashville on Jan. 26.

Same Wild lineup tonight, meaning Matt Kassian and Nate Prosser are scratched. Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau alluded to Finnish defenseman Sami Vatanen making his NHL debut. Ducks media guesses Boudreau either dresses seven defensemen or Toni Lydman comes out.

I will be on Fox Sports North during Wild Live at 8:30 p.m. and again during the first intermission.

Jared Spurgeon skated this morning for the Wild. He said his foot is getting better, but it's frustrating. He will miss his fifth game tonight.

I've gotten a lot of emails and Twitter questions about the Wild's use of iPad's on the bench this season. I'll lead my notebook in tomorrow's paper with that.

Assistant coach Darryl Sydor is the one using it on the bench. Coach Mike Yeo says half the time he sees him playing solitaire. Untrue. Sydor told me, "I just follow you on Twitter."

I better be nicer to the team then.

Couple other things:

--As you know, the Wild has used right-shot D Tom Gilbert on the No. 1 power-play unit the past three games because the five lefty No. 1 unit just wasn't clicking. I asked Yeo if he would start doing that on the 5-on-3 after the scoreless one for 1:23 against Chicago.

Yeo said he is not planning to, that the Wild's 5-on-3 is 2-for-3 this season with the all lefty personnel and he liked the 5-on-3 the other night -- 2 missed nets, a broken stick and a Corey Crawford's head-first save to rob Pierre-Marc Bouchard. Yeo did say he'd like to see Bouchard shoot more though when I asked about Bouchard's drop pass after he skated himself into a one-on-one with Crawford.

--Ryan Suter's playing well the last few games and if you read my blog the other night, he did it with little sleep and a lot of IV's because of illness. He said, however, that he is much better now.

--Gamesmanship from the Ducks "maybe," Yeo said, this morning. The Wild was ready to skate at 11:15 a.m. and thought they were going to. When they got out to the ice, the sheet wasn't resurfaced. A clearly agitated Yeo skated over to the Zamboni door looking for the Zamboni driver.

Finally, the driver began to resurface as Wild players stood or sat waiting from the bench. At 11:30 a.m. sharp -- the normal scheduled time for road morning skates -- the driver left the rink. You can bet the Wild will remember this March 12 when the Ducks come to town.



--Lastly, how's the weather back in Minnesota? Here's a couple shots from Orange County yesterday.






Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 14 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 5
Boston - WP: J. Tazawa 5 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: D. O`Day 3
Milwaukee - LP: J. Broxton 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Holdzkom 4
Toronto - LP: M. Buehrle 3 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: H. Kuroda 5
Washington - WP: D. Fister 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: T. Koehler 2
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: J. Hellickson 3
NY Mets - WP: Z. Wheeler 5 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: J. Teheran 0
Cleveland - LP: K. Crockett 4 FINAL
Minnesota - WP: J. Burton 5
Detroit - WP: J. Verlander 10 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 1
Seattle - WP: T. Walker 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Peacock 5
Arizona - LP: C. Anderson 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: J. Lyles 15
Cincinnati - LP: D. Holmberg 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Lackey 2
Philadelphia - LP: D. Buchanan 1 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 3
Texas - WP: L. Bonilla 12 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 3
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: O. Despaigne 5
San Diego 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 9/21/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston 9/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 9/21/14 12:00 PM
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New England
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Denver 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Kansas City 9/21/14 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 9/21/14 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
(5) Auburn 20 FINAL
(20) Kansas State 14
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 11:00 AM
Troy 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 11:00 AM
Bowling Green 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 11:30 AM
Tulane 11:30 AM
Hawaii 1:00 PM
Marshall 1:00 PM
North Carolina 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 2:30 PM
Rutgers 2:30 PM
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Utah 2:30 PM
Florida 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 3:00 PM
Indiana 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 3:00 PM
Texas State 3:00 PM
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 5:00 PM
Appalachian St 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee 6:00 PM
Utah State 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 6:00 PM
Idaho 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina 6:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 7:00 PM
(22) Clemson 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9:00 PM
Louisiana 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Colorado 1 FINAL
Real Salt Lake 5
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 6:00 PM
Calgary 9/21/14 12:00 PM
Ottawa 9/21/14 3:00 PM
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM


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