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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Backstrom back in nets; rest of lineup unchanged

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild practice Updated: November 26, 2011 - 2:09 PM

Greetings. Russo was working so hard I would have felt guilty not giving him today off. So I went to practice.

 

I must say I kind of thought Mr. Lundin would find his way into the lineup tomorrow against Calgary. But Wild coach Mike Yeo said that, other than Niklas Backstrom returning to the nets, his lineup would remain the same. Indeed, during practice, Yeo had the same lines and defensive pairings together.

Yeo took pains not to play any group of players for the loss to Edmonton. But I think we can agree that some of the young defensemen -- particularly Nate Prosser and Justin Falk -- struggled. Prosser, in fact, may have struggled for a couple of games now after a strikingly strong start.

But Yeo is keeping things the same. "As a team we just weren't good," he said. "To me, it's, 'Let's give our entire group -- the entire team that played (Friday) night, lets' give them a chance to respond.' ''

I can't fault Yeo's thinking. I think it's a good idea, particularly with young players, to give them this opportunity, rather than scratching them the game following a letdown. We'll see how the kids -- how the whole team -- responds.

That said, Yeo pronounced Mike Lundin ready to return, and hinted that he and his staff may entertain the thought of playing Lundin Monday against Tampa Bay. It would be fitting, that being Lundin's old team.

Yeo also said that Greg Zanon was very close to being ready to return to action, but that might take a bit longer.

 

In other notes:

--As you probably already know, there will be a tribute to Derek Boogaard prior to the game Sunday. Cal Clutterbuck -- one of Boogaard's best friends on the Wild -- said he expects it will be a very emotional moment for "everybody who knew him. He was a great guy, the nicest guy in the world. I mean, he has a lot of friends, that's for sure."

Yeo said he will offer the players the opportunity to watch the video presentation prior to the ceremony to help them deal with their emotions.

 

--Yeo said there is nothing new on other Gui Latendresse or Marek Zidlicky. Neither player, dealing with concussions, is close to returning to practice, though Latendresse said he did do some skating on his own Friday.

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