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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Clutterbuck out tonight vs. Coyotes

Posted by: Michael Russo under Vikings, Wild pregame skate Updated: December 7, 2009 - 2:23 PM

Good afternoon from rainy Phoenix.

Cal Clutterbuck rejoined the team here in Phoenix yesterday. He skated today but still looks drained and will miss his second game. Coach Todd Richards said he just doesn't have the strength to be effective.

So Richards will go with the same lineup tonight, meaning Jaime Sifers is in for John Scott and James Sheppard will play for Clutterbuck. Niklas Backstrom in the cage.

Like the Wild, Phoenix is rolling thanks to pure defense.

The Coyotes have won four in a row. Ten different players have scored in that stretch, and none of the wins came with a power-play goal. Ilya Bryzgalov has made 17 starts this season in which he's allowed two goals or fewer (15-2).

Remember, the Wild's last regulation loss way back on Nov. 18 was in an awful home effort against the Coyotes. Richards at the time called the game the Wild's "poorest" of the season. The Coyotes are an interesting team. Great coaching now under Dave Tippett, and this is a team that at the All-Star break last year was fifth in the conference.

I'm having all sorts of Internet issues right now, so I want to post this while I can. I know this is not exactly an exciting blog, but I'll be back tonight -- hopefully.

Had fun working with the Vikings scribes last night. Talk to you later.

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