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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Scandella closes in on Wild return

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: November 21, 2011 - 3:11 PM

Good afternoon everybody. Bit of a late blog today because I was multi-tasking down at practice -- working on a daily story for Tuesday's paper while working ahead on Wednesday's story. I'll be doing a profile on one of the Wild's most important and unheralded players for Wednesday, so I sat down with him after practice for an interview.

I'll keep you guessing as to who, but if you had to guess, who do you think it is? In the previous graph (paragraph, to all you newspaper laymen) are some hints.

The big news at practice was just further affirmation that Marco Scandella should be able to play Wednesday against Nashville. Scandella has missed four games with a concussion, but he's been working out and returned to skate with the players Saturday. After the Blues game, Kris Fredheim was reassigned, which was a good indication that Scandella was feeling well.

The Wild is getting healthier on the back end. Mike Lundin was on his way back to Minnesota after his two-game conditioning stint in Houston. On Friday, he worked off the rust during an up and down game. On Sunday, he was apparently much better and steadier -- that at least according to the Wild report.

Coach Mike Yeo said he'll need some more practices with the Wild before he debuts, but let's be honest: I don't think Yeo wants to mess too much with the quality-playing blue line right now. For instance, Nate Prosser. The Wild is 9-2 since he was recalled. He's been super steady. Justin Falk keeps getting better and better and arguably was the Wild's best defenseman against St. Louis. So it's tough to pull any of these guys.

If the Wild keeps getting healthier though, Prosser is the guy that most likely will be the odd man out because he doesn't require waivers to get to Houston. That's just NHL reality folks, a rite of passage. Remember, there was a time when Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner were affected by the same thing. One day Prosser will require waivers to get to the minors and that'll give him the edge on younger guys.

But as of now, he shoudn't worry about. Just keep playing well and make the decision harder on the Wild because, man, he's making it hard. He's been outstanding and at the very least has proven that he can play and play well in the NHL.

Greg Zanon did practice the first 15 or 20 minutes today before leaving the ice. He's expected back at practice Tuesday.

That's it for now. I better get writing so I can add to the guaranteed Versus record-breaking ratings night. 

Sidney Crosby's back. I say a three-point night is all but certain.

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