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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Harding returns to the cage

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: February 14, 2012 - 10:35 AM

The Wild's hole is getting deeper -- five points out of a playoff spot now -- as it faces the Ducks tonight.

Remember, 6:30 p.m. start because it's on the NBC Sports Network.

Josh Harding returns to goal tonight. He hasn't played since allowing four goals in the third period, three in the final 3:21 and the last with 20.8 seconds left in a 5-4 loss to Nashville on Jan. 31.

"I know Hards has the ability to be a starting goalie in the NHL. He's proven it this year. But in order for that to happen, these are the type of things you have to deal with. So, let's give him a chance to go out there and see how he responds to that," coach Mike Yeo said.

Matt Cullen will move to wing with Kyle Brodziak and Nick Johnson. Yeo feels Cullen has played well despite the fact he hasn't scored in 12 games. He wants Cullen to be surrounded by good players, and that line was going well with Dany Heatley there before Mikko Koivu's return.

Erik Christensen will center Kris Foucault in his NHL debut and Carson McMillan, while Warren Peters will center Darroll Powe and Matt Kassian.

Marco Scandella is back. Justin Falk and Mike Lundin are scratched.

Lots of talk in the locker room about Justin Fontaine's Twitter faux pas. A lot of the former Aeros feel for Fontaine: "It's a tough lesson for a great kid," said Peters.

Cullen said this is why he'd never join Twitter. Too easy to make a mistake, although Fontaine just needed common sense not to make this one.

"I stick to postcards and letters," he said.

Actually, I think he still etches his writings on stone. I can say that. I've known him for 12 or 13 years.

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