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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Koivu, Backstrom out, Cullen in vs. Carolina

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 17, 2012 - 12:28 PM

 It was a close call, Wild coach Mike Yeo said.

Center and captain Mikko Koivu, coming back from a shoulder injury, wanted to play. But after talking with doctors, Yeo said the team decided to keep Koivu out of his 14th straight game.

Greetings. Kent Youngblood here. I'll have the game today. Mr. Russo will be back on the beat tomorrow.

Goaltender Niklas Backstrom (lower body) will miss his seventh straight game. The good news is that Matt Cullen, sore after a knee-to-knee hit in the Wild's loss to Dallas Tuesday, is OK and will play.

Matt Kassian will be the healthy forward scratched today.

But back to Koivu. The Wild captain had practiced the past two days, and Yeo said Koivu had looked good. Still...

"He is getting very close," Yeo said. "But again, after talking with the doctors, we all felt it was best to hold him off for a couple more games."

Yeo said Koivu had looked good in practice. "Really good. He's disappointed," Yeo said. "He wanted to be in. He wants to be out there playing. The guy is a hockey player, he wants to compete. But, according to the doctor, and where we're at right now, he's not quite ready. He has responded well, been good in practice. I think as we keep going on here, the more battle drills we can get him into, the more confidence he'll have getting out there."


That's about it for now. I'll get back to you after the game.


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