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 playoff updates: Backstrom, Pominville remain day-to-day; Kuemper recalled

Posted by: Michael Russo under Stanley Cup, Wild practice Updated: May 1, 2013 - 3:15 PM


Fresh off its 2-1 overtime loss last night in Chicago, the Wild assembled at Xcel Energy Center today after flying back home following the game. With two off-days before Game 2 Friday and the team having been in a playoff grind lately, the short flight between here and Chicago gave the opportunity for the team to come home, sleep in their own beds, use their own facilities, etc.
The Wild didn’t practice today, but most the players came down for meetings or treatment. Scratches Nate Prosser, Brett Clark and Justin Falk were on the ice today with goalie Darcy Kuemper, who was recalled from AHL Houston.

Niklas Backstrom, who was injured in warmups last night, was down at the rink getting looked at today. Coach Mike Yeo said he is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. But the way Backstrom skated off yesterday, I think the assumption now is Harding will start Game 2 with Kuemper backing him up.
Jason Pominville continues to be day-to-day and, like I said, was not on the ice with last night’s scratches. Obviously a lot of guys looked to be banged up last night. Matt Cullen seemed to aggravate his injury. Clayton Stoner only played a few shifts in the first and 8 minutes in the game after getting hit hard by Andrew Shaw. Several guys, like Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Ryan Suter, blocked some shots from close-range, so I’m sure they’re smarting.
But as far as Yeo knows now, the guys that played in Game 1 should be ready for Game 2. We will see at Thursday’s practice before the team returns to Chicago.
Harding says he is feeling good today and if need be, he can start Friday. He didn’t see Backstrom get injured in warmups.
Mikko came and said, ‘Hards, get in there,’” Harding said. “I went in and finished warmup, and I took the end shots, and I thought that somebody would tell me if I wasn’t playing so I just prepared like I was playing.”
He left the ice with three or four minutes left like the starter would. He say in his stall and there was no sign of Backstrom.
“I just kind of took it as I’m playing until somebody comes and tells me I’m not,” Harding said.
Harding has gotten an outpouring of support due to his multiple sclerosis. Michael J. Fox tweeted about him last night. Same with former teammate Eric Nystrom. Jonathan Toews told the Chicago press today that his performance last night was “nothing short of amazing.”
As you know, Harding has made it clear he wants to be treated normally, that he’s just one player on the roster, and doesn’t want to make this about MS.
“I have to take care of my business, and there’s a lot of time in the summer to get caught up on all that stuff,” he said.
Yesterday late in warmups, Zach Parise skated up to Harding along the red line and gave him a few words of support and a tap with his stick.
Parise said he basically told him it was his time.
“He’s a leader on this team,” Harding said. “He helps guys out when they need it, and he just gave me a little bit of a boost, and I really appreciated it. I thanked him after the game.”
Lot of questions about the Wild’s backup situation if an injury arose to Harding or he had to be pulled. Basically, it can only be a player on your roster, so since the Wild didn’t have Kuemper there, it would have had to be a position player.
On last night’s game, Yeo said, “One thing I thought that we did well is we played a good structured game. But for me one key is take that structure and to add a physical element to it. We definitely need to bring a nastiness to our game. There were situations where we could have done that. The flip side is you have to make sure against a team like that, you start running around and take yourself out of position, they’ll gladly take a hit to make a play to score a goal. But that’s one area we can improve as a team is bringing that physical element within the structure of our game.
“We have to make sure that we’re making their D pay a price. We have to make sure we’re getting pucks behind them and I thought our forecheck wasn’t enough a factor in the game for us. A lot of that for me was our entries coming through neutral zone. We turned a few pucks over. Especially early in the game, we have to do a better job of setting the tone.”
On a power play that doesn’t include Charlie Coyle on the first unit, Yeo said Kyle Brodziak has “been there a lot more and we've had a lot of success when he has been there. So that's what it comes down to. He's also another faceoff guy.” (in other words if Mikko Koivu’s booted from the circle).
On the power play that went 0 for 4, Yeo said, “We just sat down and watched it again and broke it down and we're planning on sitting down with the guys now as well. For me, it's sort of the mentality we brought. I thought that we were a little too slow and a little too passive against a team that plays tight, they play to the inside, so if you're not aggressive and ready to attack in certain situations than it's pretty easy for them to keep you to the outside.”
Yeo definitely got defensive about questions about the lack of offensive chances by Parise, Koivu and Coyle against Toews’ line:
“The challenge is, now what if we score the overtime winner? What's the story today? Are they saying what a great job that our top line did and how their top line needs to find more, because 5-on-5 they didn't have much either. And that's one important thing to remember. The difference in the game was we scored one 5-on-5 goal, and they scored one 5-on-5 goal, and they got one power play [goal] and we didn't.”
Still, the Blackhawks have a lot more weapons. I’ll just plainly say it, no chance the Wild wins the series if the top line doesn’t find a way to get more scoring chances.
“Right,” Yeo said. “But at the same time, we also need them to play defensively the same way they did. And this is kind of what we talked about last night. We have to continue to have the same defensive focus and game plan but if we go out there and we just try to outscore those guys shift after shift than they can hurt you to.
So it's building within our game and that has to be the base of it, but now we've got to piece by piece get a little bit better. And there are areas that we can get better -- in particular in the offensive zone. We weren't there enough and we didn't stay there long enough when we were there. This time of year, getting pucks through to the net, creating those scrums, that's how a good majority of those goals are scored.”

Game 2 is crucial.
“Well there's no question there's a big difference between being 1-1 and down 2-0,” Yeo said. “But having said that, we have to make sure we approach it with the right mindset. We have to go in with desperation for sure, but our goal is to get the split and that's what we're focused on.

I'll update this with some more Parise stuff after I transcribe.

I will be on KFAN at 5:20 with Dan Barriero and on KFAN Thursday morning from 9:15-11 a.m. with Paul Allen.

CHICAGO STUFF TODAY, courtesy of my friend, Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun

on Suter playing 41 minutes
“He’s a tremendous defenceman. There aren’t many guys around who can do that. We want to force him to make as many tough plays as possible, try and wear him down, even though that’s very tough. We have enough forwards to keep him busy. If we keep playing our game eventually we’ll eventually break through him.”

on Minnesota shutting things down, protecting Harding.
“We know they’re doing a great job trying to block as many shots as possible, but if our game is working we’re going to fine.”

on Wild style
“That’s how they’ve played us all season. We kind of expected that in Game 1 and it’s not going to change. It’s up to us to keep being as tough as we can on their goaltender, get more second efforts and more traffic. We have to keep wearing them down as much as we can.
“We like to think of ourselves as an offensive team that can score in a lot of different ways.

on Harding
“It’s nothing short of amazing. I have a lot of respect for a guy like that... I read his quotes about not wanting any sympathy, he’s going to keep working, keep playing. You have to respect an opponent like that, especially when he’s going through something like that. Seeing the way he played, the stops he made was pretty cool. We know he’s stepping into that spot light an assuming that responsibility, which isn’t an easy thing to do... but what we want to do as a team is be tougher on their goaltender. We need to do that.”

“That’s a lot to do with their coaching staff over there and the way they play the game, well disciplined, good in all areas. There’s not going to be too many easy games or easy opportunities to score. But we feel comfortable playing that style of game. We’ve propven we can be successful playing that way.”

Playing through adversity like Harding is:
“It seems commonplace in today’s game, especially hockey, to play through injuries and different situations. You have to tip your hat to what Josh is going through on their side. It’s pretty amazing that he’s able to play at the level he does, it’s an inspiration for a lot of people. My personal story would probably be Duncan Keith in the playoffs in 2010. I don’t even know if he missed a shift, maybe one or two, after he lost nine teeth. That’s one thing that was pretty impressive to me.”
“Sometimes when you have bumps and bruises or minor injuries you look to the guy next to you that is dealing with something much worse and it makes it a little easier.”

No mullet for him, just Saad and Kane
“In 2010 Kaner and I got the mullets originally but I backed out the day before the first game. I didn’t want to deal with my mom and dad giving me heck after every game, telling me I look like an idiot. We’ll leave that up to those two.”

on Suter
“It was unbelievable. During the game we noticed he was out there quite a bit. Then we saw the sheet after the game and he had 41 minutes. It was unbelievable. I remember Dunc and I played 30 minutes at the end of overtime and it felt like a lot. 41 is pretty crazy.”

On the Oduya pass off the glass to set up the OT winner: “I think that was one of the best indirect passes you’ll ever see. I think Johhny saw the play unfolding and meant to do that. It turned out to be a special pass.”

Fighting through Minnesota’s style: “I expected a tight series, low scoring games. Minnesota has always defending the front of their net extremely well. The clean looks through the middle of the ice in their end are going to be hard to find.
“If we want to play a pretty game into that type of traffic it’s going to lead to them having some success. We have to play an uglier game.”


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Dallas 108 FINAL
Orlando 93
Sacramento 99 FINAL
Indiana 94
Toronto 120 FINAL
Washington 116
Houston 101 FINAL
Detroit 114
Philadelphia 85 FINAL
Atlanta 91
Cleveland 106 FINAL
Minnesota 90
Oklahoma City 74 FINAL
Memphis 85
Portland 88 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
LA Clippers 86 4th Qtr 10:41
San Antonio 69
Charlotte 103 4th Qtr 0:59
Denver 84
Phoenix 32 2nd Qtr 10:31
Golden State 24
Washington 0 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 1
NY Islanders 1 FINAL
Detroit 4
Arizona 2 FINAL
Ottawa 7
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Boston 3
Florida 1 FINAL
New Jersey 3
Carolina 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Toronto 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 1
Dallas 5 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Columbus 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 3
Edmonton 2 2nd Prd 20:00
Calgary 0
Chicago 0 1st Prd 1:44
San Jose 1
Boston College 49 FINAL
Clemson 64
Western Mich 63 FINAL
Eastern Mich 69
NC State 81 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Wisconsin 74 FINAL
Iowa 63
Stony Brook 48 FINAL
New Hampshire 63
Notre Dame 72 FINAL
Pittsburgh 76
Providence 66 FINAL
St Johns 75
Davidson 70 FINAL
Saint Josephs 75
Xavier 82 FINAL
Seton Hall 90
Tulane 37 FINAL
Temple 55
Auburn 63 FINAL
Tennessee 71
Texas Tech 58 FINAL
West Virginia 77
Arkansas 56 FINAL
Florida 57
Penn State 58 FINAL
Illinois 60
Lipscomb 73 FINAL
Stetson 75
South Florida 71 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Bradley 58 FINAL
Indiana State 64
UMass Lowell 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Green Bay 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 76
Georgetown 67 FINAL
Creighton 40
Coll of Charleston 68 FINAL
Delaware 71
Villanova 68 FINAL
DePaul 55
Vermont 65 FINAL
Hartford 46
Iowa State 83
Kennesaw St 51 FINAL
Jacksonville 50
Kansas State 57 FINAL
Kansas 68
Boston Univ 86 FINAL
Lehigh 89
Illinois State 48 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
Albany 77 FINAL
Maine 59
Butler 72 FINAL
Marquette 68
Miss State 73
Mount St Marys 77 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Richmond 64 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Virginia Tech 70 FINAL
Wake Forest 73
IUPU-Ft Wayne 75 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 65
Arkansas State 43 FINAL
Georgia State 74
Loyola-Maryland 77 FINAL
Army 71
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Belmont 71
Bethune-Cookman 61 FINAL
Florida A&M 44
Valparaiso 70 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 65
TX-San Antonio 57
Idaho State 69 FINAL
North Dakota 80
Evansville 65 FINAL
Drake 70
Rutgers 64 FINAL
Indiana 72
Ball State 73 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 79
Southern U 65 FINAL
Alcorn State 56
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Drexel 85
Coastal Carolina 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 66
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Howard 64
William & Mary 84 FINAL
James Madison 65
North Carolina 68 FINAL
Louisville 78
Coppin State 82 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 92
Ole Miss 67 FINAL
Missouri 47
Wichita State 54 FINAL
Northern Iowa 70
Loyola Marymount 76 FINAL
Pacific 71
Winthrop 66 FINAL
Radford 73
George Washington 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 59
Bryant 71 FINAL
Robert Morris 68
Long Island 64 FINAL
St Francis-NY 81
Fair-Dickinson 63 FINAL
St Francis-PA 68
Massachusetts 60 FINAL
Saint Louis 56
Georgia 50 FINAL
South Carolina 67
Central Conn St 55 FINAL
Wagner 86
SIU Edwardsville 54 FINAL
Eastern Ill 57
Ohio 69 FINAL
Central Mich 74
Eastern Ky 66 FINAL
Morehead State 57
Incarnate Word 69 FINAL
Nicholls 58
Campbell 63 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 70
Vanderbilt 58 FINAL
Texas A&M 69
Western Carolina 78 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 73
Detroit 74 FINAL
Milwaukee 78
Idaho 95 FINAL
Eastern Wash 98
Marshall 57 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 81
Jackson State 62 FINAL
Miss Valley St 75
Houston Baptist 52 FINAL
Sam Houston St 63
Louisiana 72 FINAL
Texas State 63
Denver 39 FINAL
South Dakota St 69
Oral Roberts 73 FINAL
South Dakota 72
South Alabama 61 FINAL
ULM 67
Texas 60 FINAL
Baylor 83
Citadel 73 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Fresno State 57 FINAL
Colorado State 80
Yale 65 FINAL
Cornell 57
Ark-Pine Bluff 65 FINAL
Grambling St 53
Nebraska 42 FINAL
Minnesota 60
Purdue 68 FINAL
Northwestern 60
Alabama A&M 63 FINAL
Prairie View 89
Dartmouth 53 FINAL
Princeton 64
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
St Marys-CA 62
Delaware State 74 FINAL
SC State 78
Western Ky 73 FINAL
Southern Miss 62
Nevada 55 FINAL
Wyoming 63
Hampton 60 FINAL
Norfolk State 63
Savannah State 59
Akron 69 FINAL
Bowling Green 68
Colgate 71 FINAL
Bucknell 69
Charlotte 70
Brown 65 FINAL
Columbia 86
George Mason 53 FINAL
Duquesne 62
NC Central 59 FINAL
East Tenn St 61
Saint Peters 61 FINAL
Iona 68
Alabama 55 FINAL
Kentucky 70
Char Southern 74 FINAL
Liberty 62
Hawaii 50 FINAL
Long Beach State 65
New Orleans 61 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Lafayette 74 FINAL
Navy 65
Elon 61 FINAL
Northeastern 80
Fla Atlantic 57 FINAL
Old Dominion 68
Harvard 63 FINAL
Penn 38
La Salle 66 FINAL
St Bonaventure 56
Furman 58 FINAL
Samford 68
Duke 69 FINAL
Virginia 63
Mercer 46 FINAL
Wofford 49
Northern Ky 64 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 74
USC Upstate 79 FINAL
North Florida 74
Longwood 71 FINAL
Presbyterian 67
Ark-Little Rock 61 FINAL
Ga Southern 76
Abilene Christian 74 FINAL
Lamar 84
Stephen F Austin 61
SE Missouri St 70 FINAL
Austin Peay 64
CS-Northridge 62 FINAL
UC Riverside 66
Towson 86 FINAL
Hofstra 72
UT Martin 62 FINAL
Murray State 65
San Jose St 41 FINAL
New Mexico 67
Rice 65 FINAL
North Texas 75
Toledo 80 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
Oklahoma 64 FINAL
Oklahoma State 56
San Francisco 69 FINAL
San Diego 77
Utah State 42 FINAL
San Diego St 62
Northwestern St 88 FINAL
SE Louisiana 73
SMU 75
Southern Ill 46 FINAL
Missouri State 52
Troy 55 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 54
Jacksonville St 43 FINAL
Tennessee St 45
Alabama State 65 FINAL
Texas Southern 80
Stanford 88 FINAL
Washington St 89
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
BYU 78
TX-Pan American 46 2nd Half 0:24
New Mexico St 50
Northern Ariz 81 FINAL
Southern Utah 60
Middle Tennessee 68 2nd Half 1:30
Texas-El Paso 77
Weber State 57 FINAL
Northern Colorado 71
Chicago State 56 FINAL
Grand Canyon 55
UC Santa Barbara 36 2nd Half 13:22
UC Irvine 42
Memphis 25 2nd Half
Gonzaga 43
Air Force 32 2nd Half 15:51
Cal Poly 42 2nd Half 19:05
UC Davis 30
Montana State 39 2nd Half 17:44
Portland State 51
Montana 36 2nd Half 19:04
Sacramento St 33
Colorado 21 1st Half 4:09
UMKC 19 1st Half 6:05
Utah Valley U 17
Seattle 29 2nd Half
CS-Bakersfield 29
Mount St Marys 64 FINAL
Sacred Heart 71
Texas-El Paso 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 74
Arkansas State 61 FINAL
Georgia State 47
Bryant 84 FINAL
Robert Morris 87
Central Conn St 83 FINAL
Wagner 67
Fairleigh Dickinson 78 FINAL
St Francis-PA 60
Long Island 53 FINAL
St Francis-NY 62
Bethune-Cookman 70 FINAL
Florida A&M 57
Longwood 56 FINAL
Campbell 68
Charleston Southern 40 FINAL
Winthrop 77
Louisiana Tech 68 FINAL
Marshall 67
Ohio U 74 FINAL
Central Michigan 66
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 53
Coppin State 58 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 66
Incarnate Word 34 FINAL
Nicholls 67
Samford 46 FINAL
East Tenn St 48
Western Carolina 72 FINAL
Furman 84
Gardner-Webb 71 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 65
Liberty 58 FINAL
High Point 41
Presbyterian 46 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 59
Kent State 67 FINAL
Akron 74
Northern Ill 65 FINAL
Ball State 62
Houston 66 FINAL
Cincinnati 69
SIU-Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 48
Eastern Kentucky 58 FINAL
Morehead St 76
Holy Cross 67 FINAL
American Univ 61
Army 62 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 53
Niagara 53 FINAL
Manhattan 46
Lehigh 78 FINAL
Boston U 71
Navy 65 FINAL
Lafayette 60
Saint Josephs 57 FINAL
Davidson 52
Duquesne 56 FINAL
Fordham 46
George Washington 87 FINAL
George Mason 52
St Bonaventure 77 FINAL
Massachusetts 57
Milwaukee 64 FINAL
Youngstown St 87
Jacksonville 78 FINAL
Kennesaw St 64
North Florida 49 FINAL
USC Upstate 61
St Marys-CA 53 FINAL
Pepperdine 49
Nebraska Omaha 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
Sam Houston St 74
Mercer 59 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 71
No Dakota State 52 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Oral Roberts 70 FINAL
South Dakota 93
Southern Miss 63 FINAL
Western Ky 61
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
UAB 73
East Carolina 67 FINAL
Tulane 63
South Florida 57 FINAL
Memphis 53
Buffalo 75 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 53
New Mexico St 74 FINAL
TX-Pan American 71
Utah Valley U 58 FINAL
Jackson State 71 FINAL
Miss Valley St 74
Louisiana 83 FINAL
Texas State 81
South Alabama 53 FINAL
ULM 55
Saint Louis 72 FINAL
Dayton 87
Cleveland State 72 FINAL
Oakland 64
Grand Canyon 76 FINAL
Chicago State 51
Oregon 67
Washington St 56 FINAL
(12) Stanford 75
Kansas State 41 FINAL
Texas Tech 38
Air Force 79
Tulsa 70
UNC Greensboro 64 FINAL
Wofford 77
Delaware State 62 FINAL
SC State 64
San Diego State 70 FINAL
Utah State 59
Sacramento St 86 FINAL
Montana 94
Northern Colorado 52 FINAL
Weber State 59
Hampton 66 FINAL
Norfolk State 71
Savannah State 48
Alabama A&M 64 FINAL
Prairie View 81
Toledo 64 FINAL
Bowling Green 48
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
Grambling 75
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alcorn State 51
Marist 63 FINAL
Iona 58
Bucknell 41 FINAL
Colgate 54
North Dakota 69 FINAL
Idaho State 75
Ark-Little Rock 58 FINAL
Georgia Southern 44
Santa Clara 56
Gonzaga 85 FINAL
Portland 63
Pacific 84 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 61
Abilene Christian 72 FINAL
Lamar 76
Colorado State 49 FINAL
Fresno State 53
New Mexico 64 FINAL
San Jose St 62
UC Davis 60 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 54
San Diego 74 FINAL
San Francisco 69
New Orleans 58 FINAL
McNeese State 82
Stephen F Austin 64
Old Dominion 72 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 44
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Belmont 59
Eastern Washington 98 FINAL
Idaho 95
Stetson 82 FINAL
Lipscomb 77
Washington 58 FINAL
California 82
(7) Oregon State 68
IUPU-Ft Wayne 55 FINAL
Western Ill 59
Northwestern St 52 FINAL
SE Louisiana 58
SE Missouri St 62 FINAL
Austin Peay 70
Portland State 46 FINAL
Montana State 63
Columbia 76 FINAL
Brown 85
Charlotte 81 FINAL
FIU 62
Morgan State 77 FINAL
Howard 64
(19) Princeton 83 FINAL
Dartmouth 65
Penn 74 FINAL
Harvard 69
UT Martin 95 FINAL
Murray State 85
Troy 67 FINAL
TX-Arlington 70
Alabama State 51 FINAL
Texas Southern 67
Jacksonville St 63 FINAL
Tennessee St 50
Wyoming 61 FINAL
Nevada 45
Oklahoma St 63 FINAL
Iowa State 62
CS-Bakersfield 69 FINAL
Seattle 62
La Salle 74 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 65
Cal-Irvine 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 74
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Northern Ky 46
Southern Utah 64 FINAL
Northern Ariz 73
Green Bay 64 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 45
Cal State Fullerton 31 2nd Half 19:22
Long Beach St 39
CS-Northridge 23 2nd Half 16:07
Hawaii 45


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