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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Wild searches for first road win tonight at Calgary

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: February 11, 2013 - 2:05 PM


The Wild, coming off a 2-1 overtime win over Nashville, looks for its first road win of the season tonight at Calgary.

Morning skate Wild news (see below for Calgary): Captain Mikko Koivu will play in his 500th game. I had a good conversation with him and will write about that for tomorrow. ... Coach Mike Yeo said Jonas Brodin is here to stay. "He's an NHL defenseman, ... and a very good one." (Brodin so far hasn't been told to move out of the team hotel though). ... Yeo wouldn't rule out defenseman Jared Spurgeon, who will miss his ninth game with a foot injury, returning tomorrow night in Vancouver. Yeo wishes though Spurgeon could get in a few more practices, but that's just not possible in this type of season. In fact, the Wild's next practice isn't scheduled until Saturday!

In an arena the Wild used to never win in during the Jacques Lemaire days, it has somehow reeled off six of nine wins (22-11 score advantage) at one of my favorite buildings, the Saddledome, including three shutouts.

The Wild will come back with the same lineup as the Predators' win and the same lines. Yeo wants to keep things intact so players can try to develop some chemistry.


Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle

Dany Heatley-Mikael Granlund-Devin Setoguchi

Matt Cullen-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck

Mike Rupp-Zenon Konopka-Pierre-Marc Bouchard

Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin

Clayton Stoner-Tom Gilbert

Justin Falk-Nate Prosser

Extras: Torrey Mitchell, Matt Kassian, Marco Scandella

Niklas Backstrom starts in goal. Yeo said they'll get through tonight's game and then decide on the goalie in Vancouver.

Remember, tonight's 8 p.m. CT game is on Fox Sports North Plus. Go to their web site if you need a guide as to where to find this channel. I will be on Fox Sports North Tuesday from Vancouver during Wild Live at 9 p.m. and the first intermission.

The Wild will avoid Miikka Kiprusoff tonight because he is sidelined with a lower body injury. He is expected to return Wednesday against Dallas. No goalie has been more successful against the Wild. In 50 games, he is 29-15-6 with a 2.01 goals against average, .923 save percentage and four shutouts.

Instead, 24-year-old Leland Irving will be between the Calgary pipes looking for his third NHL win. But if you know the Wild, when the opposing team's No. 1 goalie doesn't start, it often times doesn't make a difference. The Wild's got the ability to make any backup goalie look like the combination of Patrick Roy, Marty Brodeur and Dominik Hasek.

Interesting dynamic here: The Flames picked up Joey MacDonald off waivers from Detroit to be Kiprusoff's backup. So going into tonight's start, Irving knows he likely lost his job. One's got to wonder how his head will be.

Jarome Iginla is healthy -- rarely good news for the Wild. He is the all-time leader against the Wild in goals by a 14-goal margin with 35, points with 64 and winning goals with 10. He is second in power-play goals with 10. fourth in assists with 29 and second in games with 67.

Sounds like Michael Cammalleri will return for Calgary tonight. He missed two games with a hip flexor. Michael Cammalleri won't play, coach Bob Hartley said Mikael Backlund and Sven Baertschi are out.

Veteran defenseman Cory Sarich will play. Derek Smith is coming out.

That's it for now. Very winnable game tonight against the 3-4-2 Flames. And, considering the Wild is 0-8-2 in its last 10 in Vancouver (outscored 38-14 with 2 power-play goals on 41 chances in that stretch) AND have to play on a second of back-to-back with Vancouver well rested, this is as close to a must-win as there is at this time of year.


Fla Southern 2 FINAL
Detroit 12
Miami 7
Toronto 114 FINAL
Philadelphia 103
Golden State 108 FINAL
Brooklyn 110
Phoenix 98 FINAL
Miami 115
LA Clippers 110 FINAL
Minnesota 105
New Orleans 93 FINAL
Dallas 102
Nashville 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Carolina 2 FINAL
Chicago 5
Montreal 0 FINAL
San Jose 4
Virginia 59 FINAL
Syracuse 47
Baylor 59 FINAL
Texas 61
SE Louisiana 79 FINAL
Northwestern St 92
Central Arkansas 49 FINAL
Sam Houston St 76
Norfolk State 59 FINAL
Howard 61
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 75 FINAL
Delaware State 85
Lamar 69 FINAL
McNeese State 70
Nicholls 89 FINAL
New Orleans 79
Incarnate Word 62 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 83
NC Central 62 FINAL
Savannah State 49
Texas Southern 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 75
Prairie View 67 FINAL
Alabama State 65
Oklahoma 70 FINAL
Iowa State 77
Grambling St 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 66
Boston College 66 FINAL
Virginia Tech 59
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 64
Bethune-Cookman 55 FINAL
NC A&T 58
Hampton 78 FINAL
Delaware State 63
Norfolk State 63 FINAL
Howard 60
NC Central 54 FINAL
Savannah State 65
Texas Southern 83 FINAL
Alabama A&M 46
Prairie View 42 FINAL
Alabama State 60
Jackson State 78 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 74
Grambling 56 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Tulsa 71 FINAL
Cincinnati 58
(1) Connecticut 88 FINAL
South Florida 65
East Carolina 67
Central Conn St 53 FINAL
Bryant 55
Wagner 66 FINAL
Robert Morris 60
Sacred Heart 75 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 84
St Francis-NY 73 FINAL
Long Island 49
Mount St Marys 87 FINAL
St Francis-PA 90
Temple 56 FINAL
Houston 45
Texas Tech 65 FINAL
(6) Baylor 75
Iowa State 64 FINAL
Kansas 68
Memphis 53
Oklahoma 66 FINAL
Oklahoma St 56


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