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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Mike Yeo on why the Wild recalled Jason Zucker; Updates heading into tonight's Ottawa game

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: November 20, 2013 - 4:57 PM

Great news. Second trip back to Ottawa since the 2009 Wild equipment fire and no equipment has burned … yet.

I was looking back on yesteryear earlier today, and I found this inventory blog on the Wild’s lost equipment Dec. 18, 2009, in Ottawa. Other amazing thing that went on then? Swine flu was going around and Eric Belanger, Gui Latendresse and Robbie Earl ended up not playing in the game. The Wild had to play short skaters that night in a blah 4-1 loss.

The Wild lost 6-2 last night in Montreal and coach Mike Yeo will be looking for a rebound tonight in Ottawa.

“I feel confident because of our leadership, because of the group that we have,” Yeo said two hours before gametime. “That doesn’t mean there’s any guarantees. We’re playing against a team that’s going to be looking to bounce back as well [after a 5-2 loss at Philadelphia last night], so it’s going to be a challenging game.

“But where my confidence lies is in our leadership and our players to come out and put forth a really great effort. I sit up here and I do believe that. I’d be surprised if we saw otherwise.”

Yeo on recalling Jason Zucker: “From what we’ve heard, he’s played well [in Iowa]. It’s been warranted. … Zuck, with his speed and his skill level, he’s shown he’s capable of being a top-6 forward. If we’re going to call him up, we want to give him an opportunity to play with good players.”

Zucker will skate with Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville on the second line. Remember, he had success last year with Matt Cullen and Devin Setoguchi, and that line seems to have a similar makeup and identity.

Nino Niederreiter moved to the Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak line last night and that’s where he’ll skate to start tonight’s game, while Justin Fontaine will skate with former Senators and no longer a fan favorite, Dany Heatley, and former Senators Zenon Konopka.

Josh Harding will start in goal. Matt Dumba will play. Nate Prosser is scratched.

Yeo on Torrey Mitchell’s leg injury: “I don’t think it’s going to be very serious.”

Also, Niklas Backstrom went on the ice today in Minnesota and took shots. Yeo didn’t have an update on how Backstrom (concussion) felt: “We’ll have to see how things went today. When we get back, tomorrow we’ll have a better idea once we get a chance to talk to him personally.”

The Wild will fly back to Minnesota after tonight’s game. The team has Thursday off before flying to Winnipeg on Friday for practice leading into Saturday’s 2 p.m. matinee vs. the Jets. The Wild then will fly to St. Louis and practice there Sunday before completing its four-game trip against the Blues on Monday.

Talk after the game.

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