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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Afternoon from high above an empty X, where I'm all alone in a dark press box, too.
Wild coach Mike Yeo announced the roster today for the Wild's first exhibition game in Edmonton. Remember, the Wild didn't win a preseason game last season, other than the game at Ilves Tampere. The Wild won that one 5-1, I believe, with Cal Clutterbuck getting a hat trick. I think Chuck Kobasew and Marek Zidlicky also scored in that game.
I scare myself with the meaningless info I remember.
I also remember accidentally racking up like a $2,000 aircard bill on the bus ride back to Helsinki trying to upload the Clutterbuck video.
The roster Tuesday:
Guillaume Latendresse-Matt Cullen-Pierre-Marc Bouchard
Darroll Powe-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck
Brett Bulmer-Warren Peters-Jed Ortmeyer
Matt Kassian-David McIntyre-Jarod Palmer
Jordan Hendry-Mike Lundin
Clayton Stoner-Jared Spurgeon
Justin Falk-Nate Prosser
Extra, it appears: Tyler Cuma
Josh Harding, making his first start since his exhibition debut a year ago, and Matt Hackett will split the cage.
In today's scrimmage, the green team beat the white team 1-zip, with Dany Heatley scoring the lone goal on a penalty shot.
So yes, in two scrimmages, the Wild didn't score a goal when actual hockey was played. Of course, it's easier to get goals than teach defense, so maybe that's why Mike Yeo seems so confident right now with this team. If the scrimmages were 7-5 each day, that'd be a big sign of work needing to be done.
Again today, the Wild put forth bigtime effort, although there were a boatload of turnovers late in the scrimmage.
The best line clearly was that Cullen line with Bouchard and Latendresse. The line buzzed and buzzed and spent most every one of their shifts in the offensive zone. Their last shift of the game, they absolutely used and abused the Koivu line, pinning the line in the defensive zone for a minute.
Other notables today: Jeff Taffe was very physical. Jordan Hendry was good again, and the tryout earned himself a spot in Edmonton. He previously wasn't slated to play, but Yeo said he warranted it, so Nick Schultz gets to stay home.
As I mentioned, Bouchard was obviously healthy today after missing yesterday with a hammy. Niklas Backstrom practiced today but was held out of his second scrimmage in a row for maintenance.
Monday is Hump Day -- the third day in training camp, which on most teams I've covered is pretty lousy. Usually the players' legs are mush, which makes for sloppy practices and frustrated coaches.
The Wild won't scrimmage Monday. Instead, Yeo will run two longer practices with each practice split by a flooding to resurface the ice. Yeo will work 5-on-5 throughout, everything from the defensive-zone coverage and neutral zone (installed today), forecheck and breakout.
On Tuesday, special teams will be worked on by the group of 21 players in Edmonton with Yeo, Darryl Sydor and Rick Wilson and by the rest of the team back in Minnesota by Darby Hendrickson and John Torchetti.
I'll give you a quick blog Monday before my flight to Edmonton. Just an fyi: the Wild-Oilers game is supposed to be streamed on edmontonoilers.com.
Enjoy the rest of your Sunday Vikings fans
Good afternoon or early evening from inside the beautiful University of Phoenix Stadium, where the roof is sadly closed and the Vikings and Cardinals are preparing to drop the puck in a little more than two hours.
Thank goodness, the good folks at the Star Tribune got me a press box seat next to Judd, Chip and Souhan. I think it was 1999, and the Florida Panthers were playing the Coyotes a night or two after the Fiesta Bowl. FSU was playing Tennessee for the national championship, so my old newspaper drafted me at the last second to do the Tennessee sidebar and notebook from the game.
But I was like the sixth reporter from the Sun-Sentinel, so I got the seat in the auxiliary press box on the roof. When the stadium cleared out, it was like 40 degrees out and I literally was writing with frozen finger tips. By the end of that long Panthers road trip, I got walking pneumonia.
Another funny story (at least now): Al Gore was at the game, so afterward, they shut down the lone elevator to the press box. Just picture a hundred out of shape sportswriters huffing and puffing up the stairs.
I remember I wrote a Peerless Price sidebar if I'm not mistaken.
In my Vikings' story tomorrow, I plan to use every hockey cliche imaginable. Brett Favre lit the lamp. Jared Allen stood on his head. Adrian Peterson and Bernard Berrian SPED through the slot.
During the lockout, I covered the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. During one game up in Toronto, I used lines like "Shaq lit the lamp" and "Dwyane Wade stood on his head."
Strangely, I never wrote another Heat game story after that one.
Quick Wild update: The players are spending the day lounging around the hotel, which has been overrun by Vikings purple. It's blinding. I bet the Coyotes are praying a few thousand of these Vikings fans stay over for Monday night's Wild-Coyotes game, you know, to double the crowd size.
Cal Clutterbuck, ill Cal Clutterbuck, wasn't allowed on the Wild team plane last night as not to infect his teammates. But he's feeling better today and was scheduled to catch a Nashville to Phoenix flight to rejoin the team. Team couldn't be infected, but general public, no sweat. No, no, I'm sure he's not contagious
Wonder if Clutterbuck flew a couple regional jets like moi?
OK, talk to you after the morning skates tomorrow, and maybe I'll tweet during tonight's Vikings game.
The Wild's coaches at the very least were going to try to make it over across the parking lot from their hotel.
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