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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Bouchard in, Koivu out for Wild

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild player moves, Wild practice Updated: December 19, 2011 - 4:01 PM

Update: Zack Phillips official signing should be coming down soon. He got the 2011 draft pick rookie max of $925,000 per in NHL; $832,500 salary, $92,500 signing bonus annually. Again, he stays in Saint John.

Afternoon from inside Vancouver's Rogers Arena, where the Wild's lost eight in a row (0-6-2).

Pierre-Marc Bouchard will return to the Wild's lineup after missing two games because of a broken nose. He'll play on a line with Matt Cullen and Dany Heatley, and at least in the skate, they were fun to watch. 

Mikko Koivu will not play. I'd think tomorrow in Calgary is a very good possibility. I don't think the Wild ever was going to have him play back-to-back. 

Jed Ortmeyer will play on a line with his Houston linemate, Warren Peters, and Jarod Palmer, who's excited to play the Canucks because they're one of the teams he chose Minnesota over after his senior year at Miami. 

Chad Rau, the pride of Eden Prairie ("cake eater", Heatley quickly dubbed him) will not make his NHL debut tonight because of Bouchard's return. I still think he may be on the rest of the trip, so if he eventually debuts, he'll become the fourth Minnesotan in the lineup, sixth this season and 13th all-time to play for the Wild. 

If he eventually plays, we'll finally get to ascertain if you can actually have too many Minnesotans in one lineup. :) Even Matt Cullen jokingly said you can.

If Rau eventually plays, he'll become the team-record 11th rookie to play this season and I think sixth to make his NHL debut (off top of my head, Bulmer, Hackett, Palmer, McIntyre and Fredheim).

Vancouver resident Greg Zanon and Justin Falk also scratched.

Update: Holiday roster freeze starts tonight at midnight ET and lasts til 12:01 a.m. ET Dec. 28. No trades during that window, but if you called a guy up after Dec. 11, you're free to send him back before Dec. 23.

Roberto Luongo vs Niklas Backstrom. It'll be interesting to see if the Wild comes back with Backstrom over Josh Harding in Calgary because he's so good there.

But Yeo said of starting Backstrom tonight, "Let's go for the win." That wasn't a shot at Harding. He just meant Harding hasn't played a lot lately, Backstrom's playing great, he's the No. 1 and he's not going to not start his No. 1 goalie just because tonight's game is going to be a hard one to win.

Aaron Rome is injured for Vancouver, as is Minnesotan Keith Ballard (back spasms), so that'll make this less of a WCHA-looking game.

I'll be on the Team 1040 in Vancouver at 7:30 pm CT and on Canucks TV (Sportsnet) during the first intermission.

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