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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

St. Louis Blues 4, Wild 3

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage, Wild training camp Updated: September 28, 2011 - 9:22 AM

Wednesday morning links

Check out today's articles, the first being a very funny Bridget Cullen and her relationship with husband Matt

The second being the notebook featuring Brett Bulmer, Cal Clutterbuck talking James Wisniewski, a funny Eric Nystrom/Colton Gillies anecdote from Saturday and injury updates.

In the Bulmer story, here is the fight the brash Bulmer was talking about with Jesse Forsberg:

 

Checking in after tonight’s game, where the Wild blew a 3-1 lead to lose 4-3 to St. Louis on Carlo Coloaiacovo's winner with 1:09 left.

The Wild came out strong, but slowly but surely the Wild got away from its game after goals by Marek Zidlicky, Mikko Koivu and Brett Bulmer.

“We got what we deserved,” said coach Mike Yeo.

That’s because for the second straight home game (the Wild did win the first in overtime against Columbus on a Dany Heatley power-play winner), the Wild turned way too many pucks over, and it became an exercise on backchecking.

That led to a lot of tired bodies, some poor defensive-zone play, and next thing you know, St. Louis basically controlled the second half of the game.

Right now, the Wild has a practice day Wednesday before back-to-back exhibition games against Columbus and Edmonton (then eight days of team building before the Oct. 8 opener). The Wild has a lot of work to do to master Mike Yeo’s system, but it starts with smart decisions with the puck.

“I’ll be very curious to see how long it’s going to take us to [get from] this is not something that we do intermittently or once in awhile, this is something we do shift after shift, line after line, wave after wave of Minnesota Wild hockey,” Yeo said. “We started to get away from our game as far as going north and getting to the offensive zone.

“It’s very new and these guys have a couple more years of building their game,” Yeo said of St. Louis, which plays a very similar system. “Their team was able to stay with their game more consistently through the game.”

Yeo said the Wild must “learn what the right play is. Sometimes the play is to go east-west and execute that way and sometimes the play is to chip the puck out and sometimes the play is to keep the puck in front of you or cycle the puck back down low so with our structure we’re doing the right things defensively or without the puck that even if we lose the puck, we’re going to be in the right position where we can get it back and get back to our game.”

But right now, the Wild’s all over the map, especially in the defensive zone, where there was a lot of slapping of pucks around the boards or putting the puck in positions where there was no support or no place the teammate could do with the puck. There was also a lot of reaching.

“Coming into D zone coverage is not good enough right now,” Yeo said. “There’s a lot of circling. Guys know where to go, but then we circle out of that position and then you open yourself up.

“We don’t have the benefit that a lot of teams do [of knowing their system], so we can’t afford to have a day where we don’t take advantage of learning and build and reinforce the way we want to play the game.

“We’re not as good with the puck as we will be, but it’s unfair for me to sit up here and to get mad at the players for that. That’s why our practices are demanding, our practices are very detail oriented because over time, that’s how you develop your habits. When the game is on the line, you don’t have time to think. You react, and that’s when your habits come out. And we haven’t developed the right habits yet.”

So the next 10 days are critical as the Wild tries to find its game.

One thing I’m paying attention to is the blue line. It’s banged up, and frankly it’s not a very deep blue line to begin with in terms of experience. Nick Schultz looked good in his first game today, but his partner, Greg Zanon, looked tired and had troubles. Zidlicky scored, but he had two bad turnovers that led to goals.

There’s just no horse back there now with Brent Burns gone.

The good signs tonight? Bulmer again didn’t look out of place, and even though he was in the box for the tying goal, I thought it was a very borderline call.

Heatley and Devin Setoguchi had two assists each, and the top line has combined for four goals and nine assists in two preseason games.

That’s it for now. Brian Stensaas will be covering the team from a daily point of view tomorrow as I work ahead on other stories. The next time you may hear from me is just before the game in Columbus on Thursday.

As for the coverage, take a look at Wednesday’s Matt Cullen story with some pretty funny anecdotes about his competitive wife, Bridget, and the notebook that leads with Brett Bulmer.

 

  • 8
  • Comments

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT