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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Wild gets back to work Saturday after one-sided loss in Anaheim

Posted by: Michael Russo under Super Bowl, Wild practice Updated: February 2, 2013 - 3:47 PM
Today’s Wild practice was all about fixing a couple tiny, miniscule issues. The Wild need to be better defensively and better offensively.
 
Other than that, everything’s going just great!
 
Good afternoon from beautiful Glendale, Arizona, where it’s a chilly 66 degrees. I even considered putting on a long-sleeve shirt for practice.
 
The Wild’s practice today was all about forechecking and doing a better job executing coming out of its own end.
 
It was a vicious cycle all night in Friday’s eventual 3-1 loss at Anaheim – Minnesota spent 30 or 40 seconds in its own end, turned some pucks over, survived some scrambles and would finally chip it out. Exhausted, players would go for a change as the Ducks gathered the puck and came on the attack again just as new bodies would come on and begin play with an extended shift trying to defend and chase the puck all over the Minnesota zone. Those players would clear the puck and change, and the Wild did it over and over again.
 
So the improvements must start in the defensive zone if the Wild wants to get back to sustaining some offensive zone pressure. And offensively, the Wild must do a better job playing physical, hemming defenseman in and wearing them down just like the Wild’s D got worn down Saturday.
 
That’s what the article in Sunday’s paper will be regarding. It’s riveting Hockey 101/x’s and o’s stuff. Actually, some pretty good quotes from Miguel Yeo.
 
Busy day here in Glendale. In an oddity of this lockout-shortened season, the Dallas Stars and  Wild are sharing the hotel because the Stars and Coyotes complete a home-and-home tonight. Earlier this week in St. Paul, Columbus and Chicago shared a hotel.
 
Because of the Stars being in the visitors’ locker room in the arena, the Wild had to use a tiny auxiliary room.
 
Matt Cullen didn’t practice today. He crashed head-first into the side wall in Anaheim yesterday when he started to lose his footing and Kyle Palmieri followed through with his check.
 
Cullen avoided a serious injury it appears though and just has a sore neck and shoulder. Yeo said Cullen feels he will be fine to play Monday, so the Wild held off on calling up a forward.
 
“It’s nothing serious,” Yeo said.
 
If Cullen can’t practice Sunday, the Wild can either call up a player from Houston or dust off Matt Kassian for the first time this season.
 
Defenseman Jared Spurgeon skated Saturday but didn’t practice. He is expected to miss his sixth game with a foot injury.
 
Yeo said the coaching staff talked over and over again about changing up the lines “top to bottom” last night and again today. We will get a better idea if that’s what they’re planning at Sunday’s practice. As of today, with no Cullen, Pierre-Marc Bouchard moved to the second line, Torrey Mitchell to the third and Matt Kassian to the fourth.
 
My gut says we’ll see different lines at Sunday’s practice, including a new first line. We will see. But the first line has gotten little done the past few games.
 
The Wild will practice here Sunday before heading to a Super Bowl party. I may go to the Stars-Coyotes game tonight, so I’m sure I’ll tweet a bit. Otherwise, talk Sunday.

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