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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Lots of familiar faces in Wild-Sharks matinee

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 23, 2013 - 11:59 AM

The Wild hosts the San Jose Sharks this afternoon at 1 p.m. CT, and there will be a ton of familiar faces on both sides.

For the Sharks, there's former Wild players Brent Burns, Martin Havlat and, playing his first-ever game as a visitor at the X, 2006 first-round pick James Sheppard.

For the Wild, there's Devin Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, and playing their former teams for the first time, Torrey Mitchell and 2010 first-round pick Charlie Coyle.

I talked to Burns and Sheppard before the game. Burns will be playing first-line right wing with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. Sheppard missed two full seasons following three knee surgeries stemming from the broken kneecap in the ATV accident. You can hear more from both in tomorrow's Star Tribune.

Niklas Backstrom vs. Finnish countryman Antti Niemi. No Ryane Clowe for San Jose.

Tom Gilbert is available for the Wild. We will see if he replaces Nate Prosser after warmups. Mike Rupp is injured and Brett Clark is expected to be scratched.

I will be on Fox Sports North at 12:30 p.m. and again after the first intermission. Talk to you after the game.

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