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 loses to Blue Jackets for the second time in five nights

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: February 11, 2012 - 11:21 PM

This may be my last blog tonight. I bought PowerBall tickets

Don’t know what to tell ya. The Wild may be 12th in the NHL by the end of the night if Calgary gets a point. The Wild may have lost to the 30th-best (last-place) team in the NHL tonight for the second time in five nights. The Wild may have lost its fourth in a row. The Wild may have scored six goals in the past five games.
But take solace in the fact that it played well. Take solace in the fact that it played well enough … to beat the Blue Jackets, and couldn’t.
That was the message in the latest losing Wild locker room. Hey, they did play well. I’ll give them that benefit. But its won five times since Dec. 13. I think results are what matter at this point as the season continues to completely go down the tubes.
Once the best team in the NHL (at least by virtue of points, not reality), the Wild is really up against it now.
It’s stuck behind a logjam of teams and remember, to make the playoffs, the tiebreaker will be non-shootout wins. The Wild has 20 – less than the teams around them, meaning it would have to get in outright with more points.
But that’s a long way off. Just something I was thinking about today and thought I’d point out simply to make you feel better than you already do.
What can you say about tonight? The Wild made Steve Mason look good again – something few teams in the league are able to accomplish the last few years. But if anybody was going to, it'd be the offensively-challenged Wild. Mason was good – making 34 saves, including 15 in the third as the Wild pressed.
But it’s not like the Wild just was snakebit. This team can’t score, pretty much, ever. It hasn’t been able to all year despite the addition of “shooters.” It ranks 29th in the NHL with 2.18 goals per game – behind the pace of the Wild under Todd Richards, the now Columbus coach who managed to beat his old team twice in five days.
Darroll Powe misses the net on a breakaway. Marek Zidlicky hits the crossbar. Kyle Brodziak is robbed twice. Matt Cullen hasn't scored in 12 games. Dany Heatley’s stick breaks on an open-net, back-door, tap-in pass by Mike Lundin.
The team just can’t finish.
And then there’s the power play. The Wild had one tonight. Spent two full minutes in the offensive zone and still managed to make the fan’s collective head explode by maddeningly refusing to shoot the darn puck.
It’s beyond belief to watch. The Wild gets chances, gets shots, but doesn’t get bodies in front of the net.
And then defensively, their defensemen are continually weak taking bodies in front of the Wild net – see R.J. Umberger’s second goal in the last minute of the second on a power-play rebound winning goal.
The Wild outshot the Jackets 35-19, attempting 75 shots (20 missed the net, 10 were blocked).
Yet, it scored once and has six in five games. Very frustrating.
The urgency and desperation was there tonight, yet it’s now 5-15-5 since Dec. 13 to fall from the mountaintop.
It also lost Cal Clutterbuck with a minute left in the second with a lower body injury after a collision with Fedor Tyutin. Mike Yeo didn’t have a location or severity, although it kind of looked like a charleyhorse. If that is the injury, it would be his third of the season, believe it or not.
If you didn’t see, Brad Staubitz did wind up getting assigned to the minors tonight.
That’s it for me. Enjoy your Sunday. Barring news, no blog, because the Wild earned a second non-practice in three days for tonight’s hard-fought … loss.

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