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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Palmieri reassigned by the Wild; Zucker update

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: March 18, 2012 - 1:34 PM

Nick Palmieri, the right winger acquired in the Marek Zidlicky trade last month, was assigned to the Houston Aeros this morning. He has been underwhelming in his nine games with the Wild, registering no points, 13 shots, two penalty minutes and a good amount of turnovers. He is minus-3.

The Wild didn't have to assign anybody for roster reasons, so this is intended to get his game going.

"It’s a tough situation for young guys, so he has the ability to go down there and play on a good team and get quality minutes," coach Mike Yeo said. "Certainly there’s some things in his game that he can improve, but we see the potential that he has. This is similar with what we did with Marco [Scandella] earlier in the year. I don’t think his game is necessarily as high as it can be right now, but some of that is also being in a tough situation. So for him to go down there and get confidence and play his game and not have to worry about anything except being a hockey player, I think it can be beneficial.

"He’s a big body who skates and can shoot the puck, but there’s a lot of the little things that have to be improved -- the details in his game without the puck, puck management, making sure he’s real strong on his wall play and has the ability to execute. He’s going to be a guy that’s going to be effective from the top of the circles and down, so find a way to get to that game, whether it’s getting in on the forecheck or puck support or puck protection in the offensive zone."

Matt Cullen was given the day off for maintenance reasons. He's still laboring from getting kneed by Brenden Morrow. He should play Monday against the Canucks.

Mikko Koivu practiced again today. He is day-to-day and his status for Monday wasn't disclosed. Frankly, if the doctors didn't clear him to return Saturday, I don't know if two days will make a difference. After he was reinjured after coming back early the first time, the Wild is making sure he's ready this time. I'm betting on Thursday vs. Calgary.

There were three goalies in practice, although I've got to think Matt Hackett will soon be assigned with Niklas Backstrom getting close to a return -- maybe tomorrow vs. Vancouver. Backstrom said it's coming along and he feels "almost normal" from the groin injury he suffered earlier this month in Montreal.

Yeo said Backstrom had another good day at practice.

University of Denver's Jason Zucker, who was taken to a local hospital last night with an injury for precautionary reasons, had an MRI today and the injury is not considered serious, the Wild says. He fell backwards in yesterday's WCHA Final and looks to have suffered an upper body injury.

He is likely to play Friday against Ferris State, I'm told from the Wild.

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