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 hands Oilers 16th consecutive loss in St. Paul

Posted by: Michael Russo under Rookies, Vikings draft, Wild game coverage Updated: March 31, 2011 - 11:18 PM

If the Wild could convince the NHL to schedule the Oilers for 41 home dates in Minnesota, all would be good for the Wild.

The Oil hasn't won here since Jan. 16, 2007 -- 16 straight now.

Former Wild defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron scored the winning goal and former Wild goalie Dwayne Roloson made 28 saves for the Oilers that night. Wes Walz scored Minnesota’s lone goal.
 
In the lineup for the Wild that night were Branko Radivojevic and Shawn Belle.
 
Martin Skoula was Third Star.
 
Realistically, this home run the Wild's on against Edmonton should one day change once Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi and Linus Omark and the soon-to-be next No. 1 or 2 pick in the draft, probably Swedish defenseman Adam Larsson, grow together in Edmonton and turn into studs.

Because when the Oilers and Colorado don't make the playoffs, they make it really count and get the dividends of a 1 or 2 pick. When the Wild misses the playoffs, they pick 9th or 10th or 15th. As of now, they'd pick 11th.

Somebody asked me the other day on Twitter if it really matters if you pick 9th or 11th or whatever when I was noting this fact.

Last year the Wild finished with 84 points. Carolina finished with 80.

Hey, maybe Mikael Granlund turns into a stud for the Wild. Time will tell and he looks like he'll be a good one.

But if the Wild chooses 7th last year, they get a crack at Jeff Skinner, whom I know for a fact they loved.

So, yes, it does matter.

But that's not the players problem. It's not their problem to worry about if the Wild goes from 10th to 14th in the draft. They're competitive people. Suit up and throw on a sweater, they want to win and should want to win, and tonight they played fairly well to at least give the home fans a win -- or at least a game where the Wild wasn't smoked at home -- for a nice change.

Too little, too late unfortunately, which explains why coach Todd Richards is glum these days.

Richards is extremely disappointed the Wild won't be in the playoffs. He's worn it on his face all week. And Richards isn't stupid. I think he's got an inkling that his fate is sealed for all the off-the-ice reasons I noted in last Saturday's column.

I think that's why he's also been so morose, too, after these last two wins.

It's a sad thing because he's a good guy (it's impossible not to like Todd Richards personally) and he had this team churning along very well for 2 1/2 months.

And then a Mikko Koivu injury, as well as other things, derails it all.

That's why the Wild must get deeper to be successful. Your fate can't depend solely on one Finnish captain.

All teams have injuries. Deeper teams find ways to overcome that though.

Pittsburgh's survived without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin!!!

And I'm not buying the Wild's 386 man games lost to injury either.

Guillaume Latendresse hurt obviously. P-M Bouchard out the first 2 months hurt obviously. Koivu being out for 11 hurt obviously. Playing so long without Marek Zidlicky should have hurt, although the Wild survived real well because it defended tremendously and got rookies Jared Spurgeon and Clayton Stoner to step up bigtime.

But 164 man games are Josh Harding and James Sheppard. That's padding the stats, as they say. I mean Sheppard's suspended. If you're not paying a player, you shouldn't get the benefit to tack on his 82 games to your man-game total.

Wow, there's a needless rant if there ever was one. But hopefully my original point is clear.

The Wild can't be a Mikko Koivu injury away from catastrophe and boy it'd be nice to not make the playoffs just one year and get rewarded with a Taylor Hall of Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews or Sidney Crosby or Matt Duchene or Eric Staal or ... or ... or ...

I'll write more about this in my Sunday column, as well as making the definite point I made the other day that starting with last year's draft class. things still are getting sunnier.

Talk to you after Friday's practice.

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