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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Wild spanked for second straight game; Lundin likely to make Wild debut Monday vs. Tampa Bay

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: November 27, 2011 - 9:56 PM

Evening from the X, where the Wild got spanked (understatement) 5-2 by the Calgary Flames tonight.
The Wild’s last three losses have actually been by 5-2 scores, by the way. The one the other night against Edmonton wasn’t as bad as the score would indicated and the one tonight wasn’t as good as the score would indicate.
The Wild was that sloppy, that lethargic.
The battle level was terrible. The puck support was terrible. The play with the puck was terrible.
As coach Mike Yeo said, the good news is the Wild can’t play any worse.
When the Wild played this poorly a few weeks ago against Los Angeles, the good news was the Wild had a chance to respond 24 hours later in Anaheim. It did respond impressively with a victory that was actually the first of five in a row before the past two losses.
The good news is the Wild will get a chance to redeem itself Monday night against Tampa Bay.
For that to happen though, the Wild needs to come out ready to play. Tonight, it clearly was not.
Yeo wasn’t displeased with the Wild’s start, getting a good first shift that resulted in a penalty and Cal Clutterbuck’s power-play goal. But the Wild then fell behind 2-1 before Nick Johnson’s tying goal. But Niklas Backstrom gave up another bad goal and the Wild would never score again.
Its power play was pitiful, exemplified best early in the third when it got a chance to tie with a 1:29 of power-play time to open the period. It didn’t come close to tying, and then Josh Harding handed the puck to Alex Tanguay, couldn’t get back into his net in time and that would be all she wrote during a horrific third period.
“That game’s not a question of character, it’s not a question of desire or want or anything else,” Yeo said. “Everybody’s been talking about how we’re in first place and things have been going great and we’ve won 10 out of 12 and lots of great stuff, but along the way, it’s not like we were saying we’re here and we’re not going to have a road bump or two along the way.
“Tonight was a road bump. It’s a pretty good indication of we’re not there yet as far as understanding of what our game is, of how we have to play the game, how we have to prepare before we go into a game.”
Yeo said when the Wild fell down 3-2, the Wild couldn’t stick with it and stick with it and stick with the program (customary by this team this season) because we weren’t right in our approach and how we prepared to play this game.
“It was between the ears. We went into this game and didn’t stay true to who we are and what we have to be as a team. … It looked like went into this game thinking about the ‘W’” and not the process to getting that W.
The blue line particularly struggled tonight and Yeo mixed up every pair by the second.
Justin Falk, who had a tough game, said he was suffering from chest spasms after the game. And Nate Prosser noticably struggled again. Yeo said Mike Lundin had a good chance to making his Wild debut against his former team as it was before the game and said afterward that now he has definitely a good chance of debuting.
Yeo also said the coaching staff would also discuss whether Greg Zanon, who’s missed 16 games, returns.
Backstrom particularly struggled, and the shame of that, he was so absolutely on fire 10 days ago. But this was his first start since Nov. 17 because he didn’t play the game after his 1-0 shutout to open the six-game homestand, then became a father.
So he was rusty. He also admitted after the game that it was very tough for him to play after the emotional Derek Boogaard tribute before the game. You wouldn’t think so because of how different they were, but Backstrom and Boogaard were very good friends. If you’ve read me for awhile, you may remember a lot of articles and blogs where a good portion of my mornings was documenting the barbs Backstrom and Boogaard used to give each other.
So Backstrom was emotional during the tribute and welled up a bit after the game, too. So he didn’t shake that but admitted that was no excuse and when three goals go through you, it’s not a good night for a goalie.

Speaking of the tribute, it was first class, and here is the beautiful video that brought cheers, laughs and tears. I have an article in Monday’s paper on the tribute and my conversations before the game with some family members.

I felt for Len Boogaard, who hasn’t worked a single day since Derek died. Derek’s dad’s first-ever game at the X was Oct. 5, 2005, against Calgary. His last game at the X will probably be Nov. 27, 2011, against Calgary.
Len Boogaard drove 2,000 from Nova Scotia to be at that first game.
He stayed with his son across the street at the Holiday Inn. He remembers how proud he was as he stared out the window and watched Derek cross 7th and Kellogg in a spiffy suit.
Not a single fan seemed to notice the young 6-foot-8 enforcer, but he would quickly become a fan favorite that was so apparent Sunday.
The Boogaards were very appreciative of the Wild for putting this together.
“With Krysten [playing basketball] in France and Aaron Nicholas playing hockey in Texas and Ryan [Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer] up in Northern Saskatchewan, trying to get the family together at one time is a daunting task,” Len Boogaard said.
“I can’t say enough about the Wild. Just the way they treated Derek and looked after him, I can’t say enough. We went on two father-son trips. There’s nothing I can say, nothing I can do to express my gratitude for what they’ve done for us as a family since Derek died and during Derek’s time here.
“This was his home. He was at home here, so at ease in front of these fans, in this building.”

-- Last thing about the game.

Jarome Iginla, the all-time leading scorer against the Wild, got an early shower when somebody from the Wild bench sprayed the Calgary captain with a water bottle after he scored in the third period. I didn’t see who. Folks on Twitter said they thought it was Clutterbuck. Calgary reporters thought it was Nick Johnson, who had that run-in earlier this month with Iginla when the captain accused Johnson of head-butting him and persuaded the officials to call it.
Regardless, I’m pretty sure the below quote refers to Johnson, because he was on the ice on the goal with Powe, Brodziak, Falk and Spurgeon.
“I was fortunate to be able to score on the same shift that someone was yelling at me the whole time, so it was one of those fun moments where, I don’t know, I think I gave him a wink or something and he didn’t like it,” Iginla said, laughing.

Talk to you Monday after the morning skate
 

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