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, post-game

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Rookies, Wild game coverage Updated: December 26, 2010 - 9:38 PM

Greetings. It's a good thing Russo is taking over the team tomorrow in Columbus. Maybe he can figure out this team.

The Wild had a three-game winning streak. it was at home, in front of more than 19,000 fans, the fifth-largest regular season crowd in team history, a crowd that was just waiting to tear the roof off the Xcel Energy Center.

And what does the Wild do? Come out for the first period uninspired, listless, turnover-prone, lethargic.

OK, Ok, the Red Wings are a talented bunch. But they were playing without leading scorer Pavel Datsyuk, and had won just four of its last 10 games.

And yet the Wild starts slow, gets behind a very skilled team 2-0 early and that's all she wrote. Here is Wild coach Todd Richards, who has to be a big frustrated:

"They were ready from the drop of the puck," Richards said of the Red Wings. "And we weren't."

That says it all, really. I know Richards has been trying all season to figure out why his team can't give a consistent effort. And, more importantly, why the team tends to fold up when bad things happen, as they did Sunday when the Wings' first two goals came from very bad angles, including one from behind the goal line.

This hasn't been a mentally tough team all season. is there reason to believe it will become one? 

There will be some changes tomorrow in Columbus. Look for Cam Barker and Nick Schultz -- who was cleared to play Sunday -- to be in the lineup, along with Brad Staubitz and goalie Jose Theodore. I would say that Clayton Stoner could be the odd man out on defense, to start with. After that, a decision will have to be made between rookies Jared Spurgeon and Marco Scandella.

Anyway, here are a few tidbits:

--Minnesota lost in regulation for the first time in six home games against Detroit (2-1-3).

--Brent Burns scored his 10th goal of the season, making him the first defenseman in Wild history to reach 10 goals twice. He set the team record for defensmen with 15 goals in 2007-08.

--The Wild fell to 2-3-3 all-time on the day after Christmas.

 

That's about it. Have a good night

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