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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Injured players back at practice

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild practice Updated: March 16, 2012 - 1:08 PM

 The Wild was able to squeeze a practice in at Xcel Energy Center Friday. It came right after the Gophers' morning skate and just before the first of two WCHA Final Five games.

Mikko Koivu practiced again, as did Niklas Backstrom. Josh Harding, Devin Setoguchi and Matt Cullen -- who didn't skate Thursday -- returned to the ice.

Greetings. Kent Youngblood here. With Russo away, I had practice today and will cover tomorrow's game with Carolina.

But, as for who will play in that game tomorrow? "You guys will be disappointed," coach Mike Yeo said after practice. "I don't have a lot of answers for you."

Indeed, Yeo wouldn't even call Koivu (shoulder), Backstrom (lower body) or Cullen (knee) game-time decisions. Because each of those players would have to come up to the coaching staff tomorrow and say they were ready to go before a decision would even come into play.

"I want to be careful to say that Mikko is game-time," Yeo said. "Same thing with Back. We want to make sure. It's a game-time decision if Mikko came to us and said 'I'm ready to go.' And, if he's real confident in that, we'd decide.''

Same goes for Cullen and Backstrom. The gut feeling here is that Backstrom needs more practice time. I believe thre is a good chance both Koivu and Cullen play.

In practice today Yeo had Koivu skating with Dany Heatley and Setoguchi while Cullen was centering a line with Erik Christensen and Cal Clutterbuck.

 

That's about it for now. I'll get back to you tomorrow, pre-game, to let you know who's in and who's out. Have a great warm, sunny afternoon.

 

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