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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Brett Clark making his long-awaited Wild debut; Mitchell sick

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 30, 2013 - 7:00 PM

On March 12, the Wild signed veteran defenseman Brett Clark to a contract for the rest of the season. The purpose was to provide depth to a relatively inexperienced blue line in terms of games played beyond Ryan Suter and Tom Gilbert.

The Wild then won seven in a row. That came to an end Friday in Dallas. Tonight against Los Angeles, coach Mike Yeo will make his first change to the left D since.

Clark will debut and for the first time since March 3, Justin Falk will sit.

Assistant coach Rick Wilson will monitor Clark's ice time during the game since he hasn't played for awhile, Yeo said.

"Good puck mover, a guy that can help us execute, a veteran guy who knows how to play both with and without the puck," Yeo said of Clark. "Judging from his personality in the short time he’s been here, he'll be a guy who's composed and bring a veteran element to the back end."

Niklas Backstrom vs. Jonathan Quick tonight. The rest of the Wild lineup in the same. The Wild has not yet called up another forward to replace goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was reassigned. Because of that, it will have to go with seven defensemen (Nate Prosser) tonight because Torrey Mitchell is sick.

Tonight will be a tough game. The defending Stanley Cup champs are big and tough and playing good hockey. They're scoring in bunches and have been in town waiting for the Wild, which played last night in Dallas.

Yeo said the Wild will need to roll four lines and play a "heavy game."

Zenon Konopka's 34-year-old sister, Cynthia, will sing the national anthem tonight. She studies opera and is a music teacher, so it should be something. She's also sung the athems in Ottawa and Tampa.

I'll be on Fox Sports North tonight. Later.

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