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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After a difficult loss, a high-intensity practice

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild practice Updated: February 29, 2012 - 3:07 PM

 Well, that was intense.

Coming off a 4-0 loss to the L.A. Kings, the Wild bussed over to St. Thomas Academy and coach Mike Yeo put them through a very intense, very brisk hour-long practice. 

The theme of the day: winning battles and doing a better job in defensive zone coverage. "That's what we wanted," Yeo said. "We're all about coming to the rink and getting better. If that's something tactically, or if it's battle level or work ethic-wise, that's what we'll do."

Kent Youngblood here. I was at practice today as Mr. Russo headed towards Montreal. 

Well, the team certainly worked hard today. The one-on-one battles and the work on defensive zone coverage were intense, with a lot of hitting and even some pushing and shoving. 

Here are some issues Yeo touched on after the workout:

--Yeo wanted to stress that the second Kings goal in the loss to L.A. Tuesday wasn't all defenseman Tom Gilbert's fault. Gilbert, playing in his first game, did create a mix-up when he instinctively did things the way he'd done them in Edmonton. But, Yeo said, the goal was scored because of poor defensive zone coverage. So that was a big emphasis in practice today. 

"The goal didn't go in because they got the puck," Yeo said. "The goal went in because we're coming into d-zone coverage and we circle and we swing away, which is now characteristic of us. That's why you saw today we did a lot of drills where we were coming into d-zone coverage and we're stopping in position."

--Yeo wouldn't get into any details about the injury defenseman Mike Lundin is dealing with. But Yeo did say Lundin is skating on his own. "The only thing I'll saw is he's still not better," Yeo said. "He's trying. I think he's at the point where he's ready to try to push it a little harder to see how it responds."

--Yeo talked about how important it was for the players to channel their frustration into their play rather than display it in outbursts of anger. The TV broadcast of Tuesday's game showed Cal Clutterbuck appearing very frustrated at times. "Not just him, but everybody, it's important how you handle that," Yeo said. "You look at the team we want to become, talk about any of the champions out there, and they're able to deal with that stuff. We have to do a better job of that."

That's about it for now. Have a good rest of your day. Mike will be with the team tomorrow.

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