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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Punchless Wild blanked yet again, this time by Colorado

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings draft, Wild game coverage Updated: March 4, 2012 - 10:18 PM

At least the draft will be interesting because the Wild’s heading for a top-5 pick. With 66 points, it’s got the sixth-best odds going into the NHL draft lottery – one point ahead of the Islanders, four ahead of Carolina, six ahead of Montreal.
Hey, with a little luck, Edmonton may catch them. The Wild’s lead over 29th-place Edmonton is down to 10 points.
Who says I don’t try to find the silver-lining?
These blogs, these stories, they’re all starting to skip like a broken record.
Wild can’t score, Wild can’t score, Wild can’t score again.
Bad start, bad start, bad start again.
The Wild was shut out for a second consecutive game tonight and third time in four games. The Wild was shut out at home in consecutive games for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
In the past five games, the Wild has given up goals 1:42 in, 35 seconds in, 2:33 in, 44 seconds in and 1:22 in. The Wild don’t have the offensive ability to play catch-up every single night and almost instantaneously after the game’s opening puck drop.
Coach Mike Yeo says there is no excuse for the Wild being on its heels every single game, saying, “I have to find a way to make sure we’re ready to go the drop of the puck next game.”
Look, just look at the lineup. The Wild’s not good enough with all these injuries. Nick Johnson on the first line. Darroll Powe on the second line. Serviceable third- and fourth-liners; not first-and-second-liners.
Cal Clutterbuck, playing hurt, is on a third line with Warren Peters and Jed Ortmeyer. The fourth line is Matt Kassian with Erik Christensen, who did at least show up for some quality third-period shifts, and Stephane Veilleux.
And we wonder why this team can’t score?
Dany Heatley is working his butt off, but he can’t do it all and tonight he just missed on half a dozen occasions. Matt Cullen worked relentlessly, but, he’s an annual 40-point center.
The challenge for this summer is to get skill onto this team, and not just prospects. And it cannot yet again put itself in a position to just pray Latendresse and Bouchard are healthy. It cannot just yet again rely on players who have had alleged down years to suddenly, miraculously improve.
As I wrote last April, teams who hope for that will almost certainly be saying the same thing the following April. These aren’t down years. This is reality.
Chuck Fletcher’s been waiting two and three years for certain players to get better.
Steve Kampfer made his Wild debut. He and Tom Gilbert got scored on their first shift, but I thought Kampfer played a very good game. Moves the puck well, passes the puck well, good wheels, real good shot.
Matt Hackett, the Wild's goalie of the future, kicked out some rebounds early, and they led to two Jamie McGinn goals. But Hackett settled down real nicely and made 34 saves. Justin Falk looked to hurt a foot tonight or something in his lower leg. He kept trying to return but finally was shut down during the first intermission. No info on how long he’s out, but if he can’t play in Denver, Kurtis Foster gets back in.
Chip Scoggins is covering practice Monday. Talk to you Tuesday from Denver.
Sixteen games left until the Wild’s fourth consecutive missed postseason.
 

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