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 drops seventh straight

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild game coverage Updated: December 26, 2011 - 9:38 PM

It was a very quiet Wild dressing room Monday evening.

The team had just become the first in the NHL since 1999 to have a seven-game winning streak followed by a seven game winless streak. A team that spend the first part of the season owning the third period saw another one get away.

Afterward, though, what struck me was the way Wild coach Mike Yeo responded. He didn't rip his team. He talked about its struggles, but he didn't question effort. He refused to characterize what's happening as a crisis and wouldn't agree that his team was tentative.

Fragile? Perhaps. But Yeo is not about to panic.

Indeed, he called this an opportunity. "Luckily we're in a good spot right now," he said. "And you know what? We need this. We need it. Because if it happened later in the year we'd be in deep trouble. so we need to learn how to get through this, and we need to do it together. And when we do that it will make us stronger. We'll be better for it.''

The Wild was ragged tonight. So was Colorado -- it comes with the territory with the holiday break -- but the Avalanche did a better job of fighting through it.

The Wild struggled to set up on the power play and it was only luck and good goaltending by Niklas Backstrom that kept the Avalanche from scoring more than one power play goal.

Yeo bemoaned the lack of consistency, with one good shift being followed by one bad shift. Or by more than one bad shift.

Look for tomorrow's practice to be a very intense one.

 

Other thoughts on the game:

--The more I watch Cody McLeod's hit on Jared Spurgeon the worse it looks. After the game Yeo suggested the Avalanche was targeting Spurgeon, saying he'd been hit from behind earlier in the game. Look for a suspension for Mr. McLeod.

--Mikko Koivu played  well in his return from injury. He didn't show much rust at all. There were times during the game when it actually looked like the top line was starting to click. But there were too many mistakes, too many turnovers for anything consistent to happen.

--Dany Heatley had two assists, giving him 11 points in his last 13 games. But his turnover led to Colorado's fourth goal.

--Minnesota got its first power play goal in six games, but the pp is still woefully lacking in consistency.

That's about it for now. I'll be at practice tomorrow, then Mike will join the team in Nashville.

 

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