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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Posts about Wild news

Devan Dubnyk named Masterton Trophy finalist

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 30, 2015 - 6:38 PM

Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy last week, was named a finalist for the Masterton Trophy on Thursday.

The trophy is presented annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey and is named after Bill Masterton, the North Stars player who died on the ice in 1968.

The other finalists are Ottawa’s Andrew Hammond and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang.

Wild goalie Josh Harding won the Masterton Trophy in 2013 to become the first player in Wild history to win a voted-on NHL Award.

Dubnyk was nominated by the Twin Cities chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association because of his remarkable second-half run after being traded to the Wild from Arizona. He became the toast of the NHL after starting 38 consecutive games with the Wild and saving Minnesota's season.

After playing for three teams last year and ending up in the minors, Dubnyk went 27-9-2 with the Wild with a 1.78 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts.

Overall, he finished the season second in the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against average and .929 save percentage.

Wild vs. Blackhawks schedule released for semifinals

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 28, 2015 - 12:40 PM

2015 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS SECOND ROUND SCHEDULE SCENARIOS

        NEW YORK (April 28, 2015) – The National Hockey League today announced the schedule scenarios for the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs Second Round, which begins Thursday, April 30. Pending Wednesday's Game 7 between the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, two schedule scenarios exist. In the U.S., NBC Sports Group will have exclusive coverage of the Second Round. Sportsnet, CBC and TVA Sports continue exclusive coverage throughout Canada. All times listed are ET and subject to change. Start times and television information for games later in this round will be released as they are determined.
If Tampa Bay advances to the Second Round

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Date                          TIME (ET)         #1 Montreal vs. #2 Tampa Bay      Networks
Friday, May 1             7 p.m.               Tampa Bay at Montreal               CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Sunday, May 3           6 p.m.               Tampa Bay at Montreal               CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Wednesday, May 6     7 p.m.               Montreal at Tampa Bay               USA, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7         7 p.m.               Montreal at Tampa Bay               NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9        TBD                  Tampa Bay at Montreal               CBC, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 12       TBD                  Montreal at Tampa Bay               CBC, TVA Sports
*Thursday, May 14      TBD                  Tampa Bay at Montreal               CBC, TVA Sports

Date                        TIME (ET)        #1 NY Rangers vs. #2 Washington   Networks                
Thursday, April 30     7:30 p.m.        Washington at NY Rangers              NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, May 2       12:30 p.m.       Washington at NY Rangers             NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, May 4         7:30 p.m.        NY Rangers at Washington              NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 6   7:30 p.m.        NY Rangers at Washington              NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Friday, May  8         7 p.m.             Washington at NY Rangers             NBCSN, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 10       TBD               NY Rangers at Washington             TVA Sports
*Wed., May 13          TBD               Washington at NY Rangers             TVA Sports


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Date                       TIME (ET)       #3 Chicago vs. #4 Minnesota     Networks
Friday, May 1          9:30 p.m.        Minnesota at Chicago               NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3        8:30 p.m.        Minnesota at Chicago               NBCSN, CBC, SN360 TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 5       8 p.m.             Chicago at Minnesota              NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7      9:30 p.m.        Chicago at Minnesota               NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9     TBD               Minnesota at Chicago               TVA Sports
*Monday, May 11     TBD               Chicago at Minnesota               TVA Sports
*Wed., May 13        TBD               Minnesota at Chicago               TVA Sports

Date                        TIME (ET)       #1 Anaheim vs. #3 Calgary        Networks                
Thursday, April 30     10 p.m.          Calgary at Anaheim                   NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3         10 p.m.          Calgary at Anaheim                   CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 5        9:30 p.m.       Anaheim at Calgary                   Sportsnet, TVA Sports, USA
Friday, May 8           9:30 p.m.       Anaheim at Calgary                   Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBCSN
*Sunday, May 10       TBD              Calgary at Anaheim                   Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 12      TBD              Anaheim at Calgary                   Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Thursday, May 14     TBD              Calgary at Anaheim                   Sportsnet, TVA Sports

If Detroit advances to the Second Round

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Date                      TIME (ET)        #1 Montreal vs. #3 Detroit               Networks
Friday, May 1         7 p.m.                Detroit at Montreal                       CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Sunday, May 3       6 p.m.                Detroit at Montreal                       CBC, TVA Sports, NBCSN
Tuesday, May 5      7 p.m.                Montreal at Detroit                       USA, CBC, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7     7 p.m.                Montreal at Detroit                       NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9    TBD                  Detroit at Montreal                        CBC, TVA Sports
*Monday, May 11    TBD                  Montreal at Detroit                        CBC, TVA Sports
*Wed., May 13       TBD                  Detroit at Montreal                         CBC, TVA Sports

Date                       TIME (ET)        #1 NY Rangers vs. #2 Washington    Networks                
Thursday, April 30    7:30 p.m.        Washington at NY Rangers               NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Saturday, May 2      12:30 p.m.       Washington at NY Rangers              NBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Monday, May 4        7:30 p.m.        NY Rangers at Washington               NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
Wednesday, May 6   7:30 p.m.        NY Rangers at Washington              NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports
*Friday, May 8          7 p.m.            Washington at NY Rangers             NBCSN, TVA Sports
*Sunday, May 10       TBD               NY Rangers at Washington             TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 12     TBD                Washington at NY Rangers             TVA Sports


WESTERN CONFERENCE

Date                     TIME (ET)        #3 Chicago vs. #4 Minnesota      Networks
Friday, May 1        9:30 p.m.        Minnesota at Chicago                NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3      8:30 p.m.        Minnesota at Chicago                NBCSN, CBC, SN360 TVA Sports
Tuesday, May 5     8 p.m.            Chicago at Minnesota                NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Thursday, May 7    9:30 p.m.        Chicago at Minnesota                NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Saturday, May 9   TBD                Minnesota at Chicago                TVA Sports
*Monday, May 11    TBD               Chicago at Minnesota                TVA Sports
*Wed., May 13     TBD                Minnesota at Chicago                  TVA Sports

Date                      TIME (ET)        #1 Anaheim vs. #3 Calgary            Networks                
Thursday, April 30  10 p.m.           Calgary at Anaheim                       NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Sunday, May 3      10 p.m.           Calgary at Anaheim                       CNBC, Sportsnet, TVA Sports
Wed., May 6          9:30 p.m.        Anaheim at Calgary                      Sportsnet, TVA Sports, USA
Friday, May 8         9:30 p.m.        Anaheim at Calgary                      Sportsnet, TVA Sports, NBCSN
*Sunday, May 10     TBD               Calgary at Anaheim                     Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Tuesday, May 12    TBD               Anaheim at Calgary                     Sportsnet, TVA Sports
*Thursday, May 14   TBD               Calgary at Anaheim                     Sportsnet, TVA Sports

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

Wild signs draft pick Christoph Bertschy to three-year deal

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 26, 2015 - 10:39 AM

The Wild signed center Christoph Bertschy (pronounced BAIRT-chee) to a three-year, entry-level contract starting next season today. The Swiss-born 21-year-old is a 2012 sixth-round pick.

I reported three weeks ago the Wild planned to sign him after the world championships, but he apparently has a nagging injury from the playoffs and won't be able to play in worlds.

I actually have seen Bertschy play in person. A few years ago before the world juniors in Alberta, I went to a Swiss-USA exhibition game a few hours from Edmonton. I got to watch Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker in that game, too.

By all accounts, he's really come on this year under Guy Boucher. He was given a bigger role and aside from injuries was productive. He's a skilled winger with good speed a skilled playmaker. Not the biggest body but is well conditioned and strong for his size.

From the press release:

Bertschy collected 30 points (14-16=30), a plus-14 rating and 26 penalty minutes (PIM) in 44 games with SC Bern in the Swiss League in 2014-15. The 5-foot-10, 189-pound native of Fribourg, Switzerland, ranked T-2nd on the team in goals, T-3rd in plus/minus and fifth in scoring. He added three points (1-2=3) in seven playoff games. Bertschy recorded 14 points (6-8=14) in 37 games with HC Bern in 2013-14. He ranked T-3rd in scoring for Switzerland with five points (3-2=5) and a plus-4 rating in six games at the 2013 World Junior Championship. Bertschy did not participate in the 2014 World Junior tournament due to injury.

He's expected to start next season with AHL Iowa.

I'll be on Fox Sports North during the station's hour-long pregame show. Game 6, 2 p.m., is on NBC.

Devan Dubnyk named Vezina Trophy finalist; Jets coach Paul Maurice raves about Mike Yeo

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 24, 2015 - 6:27 PM

Devan Dubnyk’s tremendous second-half run with the Wild has earned him a Vezina Trophy nomination.

The Wild goaltender is a finalist for the award given the goaltender adjudged as the best at his position. The 30 NHL general managers vote for the award, and the other finalists are Montreal's Carey Price and Nashville's Pekka Rinne.

The winner will be announced Wednesday, June 24, during the 2015 NHL Awards from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

“We talked about this before, I think he should be a Hart Trophy candidate too for what he’s done for our group," coach Mike Yeo said. "Whenever there’s an individual award, you’re always incredibly happy for those players and I think it’s very deserving in his case what he’s done for us and the attitude that he’s had.

"It’s great that he’s had personal success, but he really wants to bring team success to our group too. But I also think it’s a real compliment to the rest of the team. This is a team game. You don’t have success individually unless the rest of the group is doing their job."

We'll get Dubnyk's reaction after tonight's Game 5, but he talked a few days ago about how what a ride this has been and who would have thought a few months ago a picture of himself would be hanging on the side of Xcel Energy Center before the playoffs. He is also the Wild's Masterton Trophy nominee.

Eight points outside of a playoff spot when he made his team debut on Jan. 15, Dubnyk backstopped the Wild to their third consecutive trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dubnyk, who set a franchise record with 38 straight starts following his acquisition from Arizona, went 27-9-2 with a 1.78 goals-against average, .936 save percentage and five shutouts after joining the Wild. He was the winning goaltender in 11 of the Wild's 12 consecutive road wins (Feb. 18 - Apr. 9) that tied the 2005-06 Red Wings for the longest such run in League history. Overall, the first-time Vezina finalist finished the season second in the NHL with a 2.07 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. He also ranked in the top 10 in shutouts (t-4th,
6) and wins (t-6th; 36).

Dubnyk was named the NHL's First Star of the Month in February and Third Star of the Month in March - becoming the first player in franchise history to earn multiple monthly honors. He was also named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Feb. 9 and March 30 and Third Star of the Week on Feb. 2 - becoming the first player in franchise history to earn three weekly honors in a single season.

Niklas Backstrom was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2009.

Incidentally, coach Paul Maurice raved about Yeo today in his end of the year address in Winnipeg.

The question came up in Winnipeg about what's ahead for the Jets and Maurice wound his way into thoughts of "arrrogance that comes from success" and how the Jets need to re-establish expectations next year after making the playoffs and how teams look at things differently once they've been down that road and how sometimes it becomes a disconnect when success doesn't become automatic.

"It’s why Mike Yeo, and I'm not sure if he's in it, in my mind should be a frontrunner in there as coach of the year. Because for two months aside from the mumps and all the injuries he had, that's what you were reading out of there -- 'We made the playoffs last year, we’re better than this, this is a disgrace, this is a crime, it’s unacceptable,' -- that is an animal to deal with that’s very hard to contain. And he did a masterful job of that. Yes, the goalie came in and changed, but the team was prepared to accept that change, and off they went. The run that he went on in our division, in our conference, ... was spectacular. I mean, that was a special piece of coaching, from a coach's point of view, right? That’s the beast we have to worry about. That we’ve learned that lesson, that it’s a straight line: ‘Oh, we’ve learned it last year, it should be no problem.’ Get right back at it. It may be more difficult to learn those lessons next year. I start with my messaging today."

Wild vows to rebound from Game 4 debacle

Posted by: Rachel Blount Updated: April 23, 2015 - 7:36 PM

Before the Wild boarded its charter to St. Louis on Thursday afternoon, a handful of players--and coach Mike Yeo--answered questions about Wednesday night's horrendous 6-1 loss to St. Louis in Game 4 of their first-round playoff series. The party line: Let's move on. Nothing to see here.

Thomas Vanek said he had trouble falling asleep after the game, bothered by the sting of a missed opportunity. But Vanek, Ryan Suter, Devan Dubnyk and Jason Pominville all said the Wild is determined to forget Wednesday's bomb and get back to the way it played in Game 1 and Game 3 victories. Yeo said there was "probably a good chance'' there would be lineup changes for Friday's Game 5 in St. Louis, but he declined to elaborate on what he has in mind. He will make those decisions today and announce them Friday.

Everyone is healthy, and Dubnyk said there are no lingering effects from that shot he took to the nether regions in the second period.

Dubnyk didn't seem to have an emotional hangover, either. He said Wednesday's game was neither the first nor the last time he would give up six goals, and while he was disappointed at the outcome, he was ready to put it out of his mind.

"I know how to handle it,'' said Dubnyk, who gave up six goals on 17 shots in his worst performance since joining the Wild in mid-January. "You just feed off past experience. You realize it’s a beautiful day here in Minnesota, and the sun came up this morning, and that’s going to happen regardless of what happens on the ice. Whatever you need to do, if you spend some time with the family, play around with (his son), whatever brings you some perspective on life. You reset and get back at it. We all know we’re a great hockey team, and that was one hockey game.''

Some observations from Yeo:

--On whether he was concerned at how badly things fell apart for the Wild in Game 4: "No. You just move on. I’ve liked the way that we’ve looked in three of the four games in this series, and the reality is, we’re playing the team that won our division, and it’s a great hockey team. We’re here now tied 2-2. To sit around and think about a missed opportunity is silly, because we’ve done a lot of good things in this series already, and we’ve put ourselves in a pretty decent position. We know it’s still going to be a tough task, but we’re still a confident group. And we move on from the last one and get ready for obviously a very tough challenge but an exciting opportunity tomorrow.''

--On the fact that he and the players were not wallowing in "gloom and doom": "We're keeping it in perspective. A best of seven series, a playoff series against a team like this, it can’t be the end of the world when you lose a hockey game. And conversely, you can’t feel that you’re ready to move on just because you win one hockey game. It’s all part of the process, and I think our guys recognize that. I think we understand that the combination of, they played well, and we’ll tip our hats to them. But we also know that we weren’t even close to being on top of our game. So it’s not like we played our best hockey and came up short. I think there are some positives in that, if we’re going to look for positives.''

--On the series being knotted at 2-2: "I don’t know that before the series started if too many people would have told us it would be 2-2 at this point, I don’t know if too many people would have been disappointed with that. There’s a lot of work to be done here. We’re not in a terrible spot, by any means, but we’ve just got to make sure that we get ready to be at our best.''

--On the Blues: " I think there’s still pressure on that team over there. I think that the way things have gone for them the last few years, we know the word redemption is coming into play for them, and obviously it’s a very motivated group over there. I do think that they think that they’re much better than us and it's our job to prove that we’re up at that level. So we’ve got an opportunity tomorrow to be a good test, but we’re excited about it.”

--On the emotional swings of the postseason: "It’s a game that we lost, and that’s a part of the challenge of the playoffs. That’s what makes it great. ... You have to prove that you can get through those difficult times, and you have to overcome those things, those emotions. That’s what makes it special. And I think our group recognizes that. We’ve done that before. We’ve done it in the past. We did it last year in the playoffs, and we did it this year in the course of the season. So now we have an opportunity to do it again.''

And this from Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, on whether his team has an edge now:

"(The Wild has) scoring players who quite frankly look like they're an eyelash away from lighting it up, too. The advantage we have is we've got two home games, and they've got one home game. That's all we've got. Both teams are so evenly matched, both teams have so many good players, and their good players are so significant to the success of their franchise...I just look at it as a hell of a competition, and the one little advantage we got back was home ice. We've got to take advantage of that.''

And a final few words from Blues forward Ryan Reaves, on the strategy of the fourth line and its mission to wear down the Wild over the course of the series:

"We're making sure that their D are hesitant to go back and get the puck. Whether we're on the ice or the other lines are on the ice, just to make sure they're thinking twice about getting the puck, knowing that every time they do, they're going to get a bump. I think if we can make them go back hesitant like that, I think that's mission No. 1. You get into seven games ... The bumps and bruises start adding up.

"Teams don't want to go on the boards and get hacked and whacked and banged around, especially in a seven-game series. It takes a toll. When you can put the puck on the end boards and get a lick on it and a little hack, get in their face a little bit, it's overwhelming, it's annoying, it's frustrating. And I think that's what we have to keep doing. ... When they're looking over their shoulder, you create mistakes, you create turnovers when guys don't want to go back and get the puck.''


RACHEL BLOUNT
 


 

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT