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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Heatley, Spurgeon miss fun Wild practice for maintenance

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: November 18, 2011 - 2:43 PM

Afternoon from Chateau de Rousseau, where I've got a little Owl City/Counting Crows/Shins/Death Cab/Guster/Junip on the playlist and I'm in full overcaffeinated, punch-the-living-daylights-out-of-the-keyboard mode as I hustle out a notebook and finish my Sunday package so I can head, uh, west (?) to St. Cloud for the first time in my life and visit the house that Matt Cullen, Mark Parrish, Bret Hedican and, uh, Mike Doyle built.

St. Cloud-Gophers tonight with no writing responsibilities for moi and the ability to actually watch a hockey game as a fan for a change. I just painted my face red and black like David Puddy.

I look cool.

Chance I'll be on Fox Sports North between periods, and during the second intermission, I'll be on 88.1 FM KVSC talking Wild (hopefully), NHL (hopefully) and maybe a little college puck (I don't want to embarrass myself with my lack of college knowledge, although I can probably talk about Andrew Prochno's game for a minute or 10).

I'll also be on KFAN on Barreiro's show at 5:20 p.m. The last time I was on with Dan? That was eight Wild victories and two Wild losses ago, I believe.

There are a lot of good stories on the horizon in the Star Tribune. Chipper "Jones" Scoggins wrote a nice featury (made up Russo word) column for Saturday's paper, and Jim "Shock Jock" Souhan wrote a nice column for Sunday.

Larry the Cable Guy kicked the Wild out of the X this morning, so the Wild practiced over in Mendota Heights at the house that Jordan Schroeder built.

Very fun practice, where the last half was one of those tight-sheet-of-ice games Mike Yeo loves so much.

The coach is pretty shrewd when it comes to these. The players work their butts off under the guise of, well, fun. The losers always have to do something. Today, the guys in the white jerseys lost -- i.e. Devin Setoguchi, Mikko Koivu.

Setoguchi, 14 hours after hoisting the Wild to victory with a late goal, walked out of the rink muttering profanities as he carried about 30 sticks.

Yeo called him back to tell him he forgot his stick, but Setoguchi showed some Seto-tude and told him to give it to Mikko. The coach then called Koivu back to give him his stick.

As Terry Murray loves to say, "Good stuff."

Dany Heatley and Jared Spurgeon both missed practice for maintenance. Yeo expects both to play Saturday against the St. Louis Blues, who are en fuego since the great Ken Hitchcock took over the reins. Hitch has the Blues playing well -- 4-0-1 since the Wild cost Davis Payne his job. The Blues haven't given up a second or third period goal in the Hitch era! Jaroslav Halak will start in goal against, obviously, Nik Backstrom, although I didn't even think of asking Yeo because it's so obvious who's starting.

Yeo said Heatley will play, and I'd think that's a given or the Wild wouldn't have put Casey Wellman on a plane for Houston this morning. Yeo said Spurgeon would play, and if he doesn't, the only real choices would be Drew Bagnall or Tyler Cuma as callups.

Assistant Darryl Sydor was all excited that he could potentially come out of retirement, although Yeo said his gaps stink.

Couple random thoughts:

-- How good has Nate Prosser been? Somebody once told me, and I can't remember who, but I think it was Denis Potvin (name drop) that you can play 10 years in the NHL if you can just make a good first pass out of the zone. Anybody more astute at doing that than Prosser?

-- Good stats from Wild PR: Since Oct. 29, the Wild ranks first in goals against (1.50), first in save percentage (.957), first in points (16), fourth in points percentage (.800) and first in shutouts (three).

-- Told ya I only had a couple random thoughts. I better get back to writing so I can head west (?) on I-94. Talk to you after Saturday's morning skates.

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