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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Schultz may be concussed; Barker scratched in lieu of 3 rookies; Laptop nightmare memory

Posted by: Michael Russo under Rookies, Vikings, Wild pregame skate Updated: December 20, 2010 - 12:19 PM

Afternoon from the X, where I'm writing on my new laptop and watching the Calgary Flames skate below me. My thanks to our incredible technology department, especially Ed Schopf, who got me all up and running in an incredibly expeditious manner.

I played it cool the other night in Calgary, probably because that's not my worst laptop experience in that building. In January 1998, after Kirk Muller tied a game for the Panthers in the third period, Palm Beach Post's Brian Biggane jumped up to look at the replay and wrapped his foot around the phone line that was attached to my dial-up modem.

The plastic piece where the phone line was plugged in ripped off my computer and over the press box at about 1 a.m. ET.

I had to dictate my story to the Sun-Sentinel over the phone, basically winging the dictation because with the Muller goal, the entire game story changed.

OH, and in overtime, a streaker ran onto the ice!!! Poor Biggane. I never let him live this down.

Speaking of the Panthers, a secret Santa gave me a hilarious gift this morning in the locker room. It's a travel coffee mug with the Panthers' logo, pictures of Pavel and Valeri Bure, Counting Crows' Adam Duritz, an evil-smiling Kevin Falness and a few other shall-remain nameless photos. Very funny stuff, so thanks to whoever did that.

The Flames are in town to complete the home-and-home with the Wild, which may see its smallest crowd ever I'd suspect.

With the Vikings having a Monday night outdoor game and the forecast calling for a lot of snow and tough road conditions, it could make for a lot of no-shows.

All things are pointing toward a Nick Schultz concussion. He got elbowed in the head apparently by Calgary's Tom Kostopoulos the other night. I didn't see it because I had my head buried in my (Aaron Sickman's, actually) laptop, but Wild folks thought it was dirty and warranted a suspension. He wasn't suspended and like I said, I never saw it.

I did see Kostopoulos elbow Marek Zidlicky in the game for what I thought should have been a penalty and I did see Kostopoulos intentionally break Cal Clutterbuck's stick on a faceoff that undoubtedly should have been a penalty. Neither was called.

Hopefully Schultz isn't long-term or even a concussion. But they have to be careful. He missed the final three games of the 2008-09 season with a concussion. 

The Wild will go with the same 12 forwards tonight and Nik Backstrom in goal.

With Schultz out, the Wild recalled rookie Marco Scandella from Houston. He was lucky. He got on a non-stop from Winnipeg to Minnesota yesterday and actually beat the Wild home.

It could have been a crazy travel day for Scandella if the Wild didn't get him on that non-stop because the Aeros flew from Winnipeg to Calgary to get back to Houston. And even though just by chance the Aeros and Wild bumped into each other at the Calgary airport, Scandella, due to immigration rules, would not have been allowed to get on the Wild's charter for Minnesota.

He would have had to fly back to Houston, then come back to Minnesota.

Aeros GM Jim Mill said Scandella's been outstanding down there. Scandella will stay with the Wild at least through the holidays, but unless there's a huge hit of injuries, Scandella will likely eventually wind up back in Houston. The Wild wants him to keep playing down there for development reasons; he's getting 20 minutes a night in all situations.

Coach Todd Richards was awesome talking about Jared Spurgeon today. Just great stuff, and that'll be in tomorrow's notebook.

Richards was also very happy with Clayton Stoner's game in Calgary, so tonight, the three rookies will dress with Brent Burns, Marek Zidlicky and Greg Zanon.

The one guy scratched: Cam Barker. He's back with the team after a quick return home for a personal reason, but the Wild is not happy with his play, Richards said.

He continues to be incredibly erratic. Perfect example: I thought he was real good in Phoenix and LA. I asked Richards about it before the Anaheim game, and he praised Barker's improvement very, very cautiously. I decided to play it safe, too, and not write about Barker in my game notebook in case his game hit the skids in Anaheim.

It did -- in dramatic fashion.

What else? Mill was great today giving a blue-line update on some of the guys down in Houston, like Nate Prosser and Tyler Cuma. So I'll write about that in tomorrow's notebook.

I don't know if I mentioned yet, but a censored version of HBO's 24/7 (three episodes left) is on NHL.com. Remember, the auction to benefit Jukka Nieminen's daughters is running on NHL.com til Dec. 30.

Also, "Russo Radio" this week is Wednesday night at 6, not tomorrow. Also, I'll be guest hosting for Joe Anderson from 6-8 p.m. on Dec. 28 and 30, so we'll talk a lot of hockey on 1500 ESPN this month.

I think that's it for now. Talk to you tonight. Stay warm and stay out of ditches.

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