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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Pominville likely, Scandella to play for Wild in Game 1

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: April 29, 2013 - 2:09 PM

UPDATED: (I will be hosting a live chat on startribune.com at 3 p.m. Tuesday)

Wild forward Jason Pominville, who missed the last two games of the regular season with a head injury, was back in practice this morning and back on his line with Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

Coach Mike Yeo didn't say definitively if he will be available for Game 1, ... but he's obviously returning, which will deepen the Wild's lines against a Chicago team that isn't afraid to roll four.

"[Pominville] looked good in practice today," said Yeo. "He's a big part of our team in a lot of areas. The offenisve threat that he is, smart player, plays in all situations for us, and as much as anything else, the experience that he has in the playoffs and his leadership, obviously he's a big part of our team."

Fourth line has Mike Rupp, Torrey Mitchell and Cal Clutterbuck. Basically, look at yesterday's blog and those projected lines are correct.

The defense pairings are different.

Marco Scandella, a 2008 second-round pick that has played 89 NHL games, is here and skated with Jared Spurgeon, meaning Scandella will immediately be thrust into the lineup and make his playoff debut. In fact, Ryan Suter is the only D with playoff experience.

Scandella has played a lot of minor-league playoff games and is coming off two good ones for Houston.

"We've seen Marco play a lot of good games," Yeo said. "The skating ability, the big body, the execution, his best games are very, very good, and that's what we're counting on him to come up and bring."

He has had a rocky, injury-filled year, but the reports from the two Aeros postseason games were "excellent," said Yeo. "And in a lot of ways, that's sort of what we've been waiting for. ... A lot of it for us has been getting him to the point where he was back and comfortable and he was playing well. We weren't sure when this was going to happen, and we were hoping it was going to happen a little bit earlier, but we are happy to have him here."

Clayton Stoner is with Tom Gilbert. Justin Falk is the extra. Obviously that's a kick to the stomach of Falk, who has been here all year and is benched for somebody who has been in the minors most the year. He was clearly frustrated but took the high road. Yeo said, "We need everybody here committed to winning, and getting here is very important, but we're not satisfied with just getting here. Things can change in a hurry. There's sacrifices to be made. What's really important is everybody keeps a good attitude."

Stephane Veilleux was reassigned.

On playing the Hawks, Yeo said, "Game 1 it resets. We know that they're a good team and we have a lot of respect for them, but everything starts fresh right now. We've won zero games and they've won zero games."

In one interesting note, the Wild will return to Minnesota after Game and is scheduled to practice here Wednesday and Thursday as opposed to staying in Chicago for the two off-days.

Dave Bolland and Ray Emery didn't practice for Chicago today and have been ruled out by coach Joel Quenneville.

Here are the Blackhawks updated lines:

Saad—Toews—Hossa
Sharp—Handzus—Kane
Bickell—Shaw—Stalberg
Bollig—Kruger—Frolik

Extra line:
Carcillo—Mayers—B. Smith

Henrik Karlsson will back up Corey Crawford.

-------------------------------------------------

Wild vs. Blackhawks
 
Season series: Blackhawks won 2-0-1, outscoring the Wild 8-5.
All-Time series: Wild 27-18-1 (one tie), outscoring the Blackhawks 125-119. Wild has won five of the past 15 meetings, but only once in regulation.
Wild leading scorers vs. Hawks this season: Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi each 1 goal and 1 assist.
Wild leading scorers all-time vs. Hawks: Ryan Suter 4 goals, 26 points in 47 games; Mikko Koivu 4 goals, 22 points in 29 games; Cullen 10 goals, 22 points in 36 games; Setoguchi 6 goals, 14 points in 18 games
Blackhawks leading scorers vs. Wild this season: Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell each 2 goals, 1 assist; Brandon Saad and Jonathan Toews each 1 goal and 2 assists.
Blackhawks leading scorers all-time vs. Wild: Hossa 10 goals, 20 points in 22 games; Toews 6 goals, 17 points in 18 games; Duncan Keith 5 goals, 15 points in 29 games; Patrick Kane 6 goals, 14 points in 23 games.
Niklas Backstrom all-time vs. Blackhawks: 5-8-1 with a 2.65 goals against average.
Corey Crawford all-time vs. Wild: 3-1-2 with a 2.01 goals against average.
 
Wild wearing green at home in the playoffs.
 
Games 1, 2, 4 will be on Fox Sports North. NBC Sports Network is supposed to be blacked out. Game 3, Fox Sports North will have a postgame show.
Talk to you Tuesday. Flight to catch.
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