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 Finn/Czech mates going at it; Khudobin up; Walz done in Tampa; Other Wild news

Posted by: Michael Russo under Olympic hockey, Wild news Updated: February 24, 2010 - 1:13 PM

Good day from the building formerly known as GM PLace, where in an hour, the United States will be taking on Switzerland in a game I feel will be closer and tighter than many people think. This is no sure-thing.

The Czechs nearly blew a 2-0 lead last night and had to beat Latvia in overtime on a David Krejci goal. The Slovaks barely beat Norway after blowing a 3-1 lead.

Winner of US-Swiss will get winner of Czechs-Finns in the semifinals.

That means tonight, unfortunately at a different venue a long way from where I'm at for US-Swiss and Canada-Russia, Marty Havlat, Marek Zidlicky and the Czechs will be facing Mikko Koivu, Antti Miettinen, Nik Backstrom and the Finns. Teammates vs. teammates, which is always fun to watch.

The other day, Pittsburgh teammates Brooks Orpik and Sidney Crosby had a brief physical clash and trash-talking display. Orpik said yesterday soon after the Canada loss to the US, Crosby texted him with an apology. Foes on the ice, friends off -- the way it should be.

With Backstrom here in Vancouver, Anton Khudobin is up in Minnesota and will practice with the team until Backstrom's return. The Wild hits the ice for practice today at 2 p.m. CT. Chip Scoggins (@chipscoggins on twitter) will be there.

As for Zidlicky, the Wild and Zhid-lits-ki continue to have contract negotiations and are getting closer, I am told.

It looks like Wes Walz is out as assistant coach in Tampa. That's what I was told by three sources this morning. They offered him to Norfolk job and I was told he didn't plan to accept it. There's going to be a lot of changes in Tampa on the horizon with the ownership change, I am told.

That's it. Russo Radio on KSTP (am1500) will be at 6 p.m. CT right before Canada-Russia.

I'll also be on Hockey Night in Canada radio on Sirius Ch. 97 or 127 with Kelly Hrudey and Jeff Marek during the second intermission of the US-Swiss game.

Talk to you later.

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