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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Undermanned Wild faces big challenge against Red Wings

Posted by: Michael Russo under Rookies, Wild pregame skate Updated: April 3, 2011 - 2:52 PM

When I noted that Pavel Datsyuk looks to be returning today against the Wild, coach Todd Richards said sarcastically, "Datsyuk's playing? Beautiful. Makes it even better."

The Wild's up against it tonight with veteran defensemen Marek Zidlicky and Nick Schultz hurt and veteran forwards John Madden and Martin Havlat back in Minnesota as well. The Red Wings look to be completely healthy, with Mike Modano apparently being taken out for Datsyuk.

Rookie center Carson McMillan will make his NHL debut on a line with Eric Nystrom and Brad Staubitz and Colton Gillies will play the left side of Matt Cullen and Chuck Kobasew. Mikko Koivu lines stays intact, as well as the Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck line.

Rookies Clayton Stoner and Jared Spurgeon will be a tandem again and rookies Justin Falk and Maxim Noreau will be a tandem.

Richards will be looking for a much, much better game from veteran Brent Burns, who struggled yesterday against Tampa Bay, because today will be a much faster pace for the rookies to handle.

"It’ll be a good test for a lot of guys," Richards said. "You get a feel of, ‘Can guys play at this level in a game like this.’ It’s no disrespect to Tampa. They’ve figured out a way to win and a way to play that allows them to be successful. But we’re going to go against a Detroit team that is free-wheeling and very skilled. They play fast. The reason why they’re able to play fast is because they can handle the puck.
 
"It’s a challenge. There’s motivation already coming in to play against Detroit in Detroit. Nobody wants to be embarrassed. This team is capable of embarrassing you if you’re not ready. And they were just embarrassed at home by St. Louis (10-3). I’m sure we’re going to get close to their best effort tonight."
 
Jose Theodore, who won here in November, gets the start.
 
Richards said Havlat's injury is upper body and he didn't have an update on whether he'll be back. He thinks John Madden (lower) will be back.
 
Anyway, this should be interesting. You know like usual in Detroit, the Wild will be outshot like 45 or 50-20. It's just a matter if they steal one because Theodore's awesome, lose 2-1, 3-1 or something because Theodore's awesome or get blown off the face of the Earth. We will see soon.

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