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.

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Posts about Wild news

Matt Cooke faces suspension, offered in-person hearing with NHL

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 21, 2014 - 11:41 PM

Wild left wing Matt Cooke will likely not play again in this first-round matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.

The veteran left wing, who signed a three-year contract with the Wild last July, has been offered an in-person hearing with the NHL's Department of Player Safety after a knee-on-knee hit tonight that injured Colorado Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie.

That allows the NHL to issue a suspension that exceeds five games if it so wishes. Cooke can decline the invitation and have a phone hearing.

Barrie, the dynamic free-wheeler who led Colorado blue-liners with 13 goals in the regular season, is expected to miss four to six weeks with an injury to his left medial collateral ligament, Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said.

Cooke was assessed a two-minute minor for kneeing 2:02 into the second period of tonight's 1-0 overtime win over the Avs. Barrie, in pain, got up and said, "I'm done," according to TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, who was broadcasting between the benches.

The Wild killed off Cooke's penalty -- the first of three second-period minors -- before Mikael Granlund broke a scoreless tie in OT with his first career playoff goal.

“A knee on Tyson Barrie, without a doubt, that’s the play of the game,’’ Roy said after the game. “We lost our best offensive defenseman, and I think it could have been a five-minute major. Plus, I think that would have broken (the Wild’s) momentum.

“I’m sure the league will make the right call. We’re very confident they will make the right call.’’

Cooke was unavailable for comment. Cooke, who has suspended six times for a total of 25 games, has not been suspended since March 2011. He is not considered a repeat offender by NHL standards, but it's very clear with some of the kneeings this season and in this postseason, the Matt Cooke factor is in full effect.

Cooke has worked hard behind the scenes to "clean up his act" through video work and other means. Here's a feature I wrote on Cooke back in September. He has shown all season a tendency to err on the side of caution anytime there's a chance for a potential close call. He was having a terrific series to this point, and tonight he led the Wild with six of its 33 hits.

The incident in question is below. (Barrie is a great guy, by the way. He used to be a member of the Coral Springs Coyotes at Incredible Ice when he was a kid. I covered his dad, Len Barrie, on the Florida Panthers, and after the season, I used to watch playoff hockey with Barrie, then-Panthers play-by-play guy Jeff Rimer and an 11-year-old kid named, ... Tyson Barrie. I interviewed Barrie for awhile Saturday and was actually planning on writing a story on him for Wednesday's paper. That story likely won't see the light of day now.

Links to today's Star Tribune Wild-Avs coverage AND a fun Russo-Dater Podcast

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 15, 2014 - 10:55 AM

UPDATED FROM PRACTICE:

FORWARD LINES

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Matt Moulson-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville
Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Nino Niederreiter
Stephane Veilleux-Erik Haula-Cody McCormick
 

DEFENSE PAIRINGS


Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella-Jonas Brodin
Clayton Stoner-Nate Prosser
 

GOALTENDERS
 

Ilya Bryzgalov

Darcy Kuemper
John Curry

Extra forwards: Dany Heatley, Justin Fontaine, Jake Dowell

Extra defensemen: Jon Blum, Keith Ballard.

Injuries: Kuemper (upper body), Ballard (groin) and G Josh Harding (MS) are day-to-day. LW Mike Rupp is suspended for Games 1-3. G Niklas Backstrom (abdominal surgery) and LW Jason Zucker (quad) are out.

The Wild practices at 10:30 a.m. today, so I'll be back later with a fresher, newer blog. But, here's some morning/afternoon reading AND listening for you.

Today's Star Tribune coverage (click the links):

Wild finishes strong after desert summit conducted by leaders Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter

A year later (thanks to Dustin Brown), Jason Pominville gives Wild an added playoff weapon

Very funny notebook lead thanks to good sport/good guy Mark Parrish. Six years later, Parrish is on Wild payroll no more + more Mikael Granlund/Erik Haula talk and the Wild changing its travel schedule so it can practice in the high altitude of Denver tomorrow.

NHL playoff capsules, by Kent Youngblood

And, my predictions (scrutinize away because I may have tossed in a crazy upset or two). As for my Wild prediction, I can 100 percent see the Wild winning this series, but I had to go with my head and eyes at least in the prediction department. I think it'll be a long, intense series, but it just seems to be Semyon Varlamov's year and these Colorado forwards are as deep as any team in the NHL (especially if the Avs get Matt Duchene back at some point). BUT, at some point, somebody's got to get to these Colorado defensemen. They're young and inexperienced and are bound to crack, especially with Tyson Barrie and Jan Hejda banged up. But, nobody's made it happen yet. Maybe the Wild can if its players get pucks deep and go to work on the forecheck. The Avs will try to make this an end-to-end series, a rush-for-rush series, and if the Wild get lured into that, I promise you, it won't be on the winning end).

LASTLY, this was a fun thing to do, but last night I did a podcast with the Denver Post's Adrian Dater. Here is the link to his site, and then you hit a subsequent link I think to get to iTunes (it's free). We break down the series, but also talk about Twitter, our industry, accountability as beat writers and some cool behind-the-scenes stories throughout the years. It's an hour or so, but if you get time, it's probably worth a listen.

Follow Adrian throughout the series on Twitter at @adater.

A reminder, I'll be doing a live chat on startribune.com Thursday (GAME DAY!!!) at 3 p.m. CT from the Pepsi Center in Denver.


LOCAL BROADCAST SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED FOR MINNESOTA WILD’S FIRST-ROUND SERIES VERSUS COLORADO AVALANCHE
 
    SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Wild, along with FOX Sports North and FM 100.3 KFAN, today announced the local broadcast schedule for the First Round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as the Wild takes on the Colorado Avalanche.
 
    FOX Sports North will broadcast the first four games, including a full hour pre-game show, as well as a 30-minute post-game show. All four games will also be available on FOX Sports Wisconsin. The broadcast schedule for Games 5, 6 and 7 is still TBA.
 
    KFAN will broadcast Wild Fanline following each playoff game. There will also be live, 90-minute pre-game shows for Game 1 (Sak’s Sports Bar in Vadnais Heights), Game 2 (Jimmy’s Food and Drink in Vadnais Heights) and Game 4 (Wild pre-game party, outside Gate 2 of Xcel Energy Center). Dan Barriero will be live from the Game 3 pre-game party from 3-6 p.m. Pre-game shows are to be determined for Games 5, 6 and 7. KFAN will also air a 30-minute “Wild Weekly” each Wednesday at 7 p.m. throughout the playoffs. Paul Allen will do his 9 to noon show in the Wild penalty box for Game 3.
 
    A limited number of single-game tickets remain for each of the three home games in the First Round, and can be purchased at the Xcel Energy Center Box Office and TicketMaster. The Wild will host a pre-game party outside Gate 2 of Xcel Energy Center for both Game 3 and Game 4. The Game 3 party will begin at 4 p.m., while the Game 4 party will start at 5 p.m.
 
Round 1 Stanley Cup Playoffs Local Broadcast Schedule (all times central)
Game 1 – Thur., 4/17, Minnesota at Colorado, 8:30 p.m. – FOX Sports North, FM 100.3 KFAN
Game 2 – Sat., 4/19, Minnesota at Colorado, 8:30 p.m. – FOX Sports North, FM 100.3 KFAN
Game 3 – Mon., 4/21, Colorado at Minnesota, 6:00 p.m. – FOX Sports North, FM 100.3 KFAN
Game 4 – Thur., 4/24, Colorado at Minnesota, 8:30 p.m. – FOX Sports North, FM 100.3 KFAN
Game 5 – Sat., 4/26, Minnesota at Colorado, TBA (if necessary) – TBA, FM 100.3 KFAN
Game 6 – Mon., 4/28, Colorado at Minnesota, TBA (if necessary) – TBA, FM 100.3 KFAN
Game 7 – Wed., 4/30, Minnesota at Colorado, TBA (if necessary) – TBA, FM 100.3 KFAN
 
 

Wild, NHL playoff series schedules

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 13, 2014 - 7:02 PM

Local TV announced soon, all times in Eastern Time

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Date         TIME (ET)        #1 Colorado vs. #4 Minnesota        Networks
Thursday, April 17        9:30 p.m.        Minnesota at Colorado                CNBC, TSN
Saturday, April 19        9:30 p.m.        Minnesota at Colorado                NBC Sports Network, TSN
Monday, April 21        7 p.m.                Colorado at Minnesota                NHL Network U.S., TSN      
Thursday, April 24        9:30 p.m.        Colorado at Minnesota                CNBC, TSN2
*Saturday, April 26        TBD                Minnesota at Colorado                TSN
*Monday, April 28        TBD                Colorado at Minnesota                TSN        
*Wednesday, April 30        TBD                Minnesota at Colorado                TSN    

Date        TIME (ET)        #2 St. Louis vs. #3 Chicago        Networks                
Thursday, April 17        8 p.m.                Chicago at St. Louis                NBC Sports Network, CBC
Saturday, April 19        3 p.m.                Chicago at St. Louis                NBC, CBC
Monday, April 21        8:30 p.m.        St. Louis at Chicago                CNBC, CBC
Wednesday, April 23        9:30 p.m.        St. Louis at Chicago                NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Friday, April 25                8 p.m.                Chicago at St. Louis                NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Sunday, April 27        3 p.m.                St. Louis at Chicago                NBC, CBC
*Tuesday, April 29        TBD                Chicago at St. Louis                CBC

Date        TIME (ET)        #1 Anaheim vs. #4 Dallas        Networks        
Wednesday, April 16        10 p.m.                Dallas at Anaheim                NBC Sports Network, TSN
Friday, April 18                10 p.m.                Dallas at Anaheim                NBC Sports Network, TSN
Monday, April 21        9:30 p.m.        Anaheim at Dallas                NBC Sports Network, TSN
Wednesday, April 23        8 p.m.                Anaheim at Dallas                CNBC, TSN
*Friday, April 25         10:30 p.m.        Dallas at Anaheim                NBC Sports Network, TSN
*Sunday, April 27        TBD                Anaheim at Dallas                TSN
*Tuesday, April 29        TBD                Dallas at Anaheim                TSN

Date        TIME (ET)        #2 San Jose vs. #3 Los Angeles         Networks        
Thursday, April 17        10:30 p.m.        Los Angeles at San Jose                       NBC Sports Network, CBC
Sunday, April 20                10 p.m.                Los Angeles at San Jose                       NBC Sports Network, CBC
Tuesday, April 22        10 p.m.                San Jose at Los Angeles         NBC Sports Network, CBC
Thursday, April 24         10:30 p.m.        San Jose at Los Angeles                       NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Saturday, April 26        TBD                Los Angeles at San Jose                       NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Monday, April 28        TBD                San Jose at Los Angeles                       CBC
*Wednesday, April 30        TBD                Los Angeles at San Jose                       CBC


EASTERN CONFERENCE

Date         TIME (ET)        #1 Boston vs. #4 Detroit        Networks
Friday, April 18                7:30 p.m.        Detroit at Boston                NBC Sports Network, TSN
Sunday, April 20                3 p.m.                Detroit at Boston                 NBC, TSN
Tuesday, April 22        7:30 p.m.        Boston at Detroit                NBC Sports Network, TSN
Thursday, April 24        8 p.m.                Boston at Detroit                NBC Sports Network, TSN
*Saturday, April 26        3 p.m.                Detroit at Boston                NBC, TSN
*Monday, April 28        TBD                Boston at Detroit                TSN
*Wednesday, April 30        TBD                Detroit at Boston                TSN

Date        TIME (ET)        #2 Tampa Bay vs. #3 Montreal        Networks                
Wednesday, April 16        7 p.m.                Montreal at Tampa Bay                CNBC, CBC, RDS
Friday, April 18                7 p.m.                Montreal at Tampa Bay                CNBC, CBC, RDS
Sunday, April 20                7 p.m.                Tampa Bay at Montreal                CBC, RDS, NBC Sports Network
Tuesday, April 22        7 p.m.                Tampa Bay at Montreal                CBC, RDS, NHL Network U.S.
*Thursday, April 24        7 p.m.                Montreal at Tampa Bay                 CNBC, CBC, RDS
*Sunday, April 27        TBD                Tampa Bay at Montreal                CBC, RDS, NBC Sports Network
*Tuesday, April 29        TBD                Montreal at Tampa Bay                CBC, RDS

Date        TIME (ET)        #1 Pittsburgh vs. #4 Columbus        Networks        
Wednesday, April 16        7:30 p.m.        Columbus at Pittsburgh                NBC Sports Network, CBC
Saturday, April 19        7 p.m.                Columbus at Pittsburgh                NBC Sports Network, CBC
Monday, April 21        7 p.m.                Pittsburgh at Columbus                NBC Sports Network, CBC
Wednesday, April 23        7 p.m.                Pittsburgh at Columbus                NBC Sports Network, CBC
*Saturday, April 26         TBD                Columbus at Pittsburgh                CBC
*Monday, April 28        TBD                Pittsburgh at Columbus                CBC
*Wednesday, April 30        TBD                Columbus at Pittsburgh                CBC

Date        TIME (ET)        #2 NY Rangers vs. #3 Philadelphia        Networks        
Thursday, April 17        7 p.m.                Philadelphia at NY Rangers               CNBC, TSN
Sunday, April 20                Noon                Philadelphia at NY Rangers               NBC, TSN
Tuesday, April 22        8 p.m.                NY Rangers at Philadelphia              CNBC, TSN
Friday, April 25                 7 p.m.                NY Rangers at Philadelphia        CNBC, TSN
*Sunday, April 27        Noon                Philadelphia at NY Rangers               NBC, TSN
*Tuesday, April 29        TBD                NY Rangers at Philadelphia               TSN
*Wednesday, April 30        TBD                Philadelphia at NY Rangers               TSN

* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined

Wild to play Colorado in first round of playoffs

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 13, 2014 - 1:57 PM

For the third time in franchise history, the Wild will face the Colorado Avalanche in the postseason.

The Avalanche won the Central Division this afternoon thanks to the plummeting St. Louis Blues’ home loss against the Detroit Red Wings.

The Wild-Avs series is expected to start in Denver on Thursday.

The Avs, who are 8-1-1 in their past 10 and play a meaningless game tonight at Anaheim, has gone from 29th place to a division championship in one year with Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy in his first year as coach.

The Wild went 1-3-1 against the Avalanche this season. Since March 5, 2006, the Wild is 32-14-6 against Colorado and 13-3-3 in its past 19 in Denver.

But the Avs are a different team. Semyon Varlamov, a potential Vezina winner, just broke Roy’s single-season record with 41 wins. Guaranteed Calder winner Nathan MacKinnon, 18, is already one of the most threatening players in the West. Gabriel Landeskog is a rock-solid two-way forward, as is Ryan O’Reilly.. Bloomington’s Erik Johnson has had a terrific season on the blue line.

The Avs average the fourth-most goals per game in the NHL (3.00), although they rank 14th defensively (2.63 goals against per game).

In 2003, the Wild rallied from 3-1 down to beat Colorado in the first round. Andrew Brunette scored the most famous goal in franchise history and sent Roy into retirement by scoring the series-clinching goal in overtime. In 2008, after the Wild won the Northwest Division, Jose Theodore and the Avs stoned the Wild in six games.

“They are completely different than what they were last year,” said Jason Pominville. “They only added a couple players here or there, but their coaching staff must have done a great job there. They’re just playing with really, really good confidence. They’ve got a lot of skill up front that can make you pay.”

Added Ryan Suter on playing in Denver, “It’s a tough place to play with the altitude. If you get caught out there, that really hurts you. We enjoy playing there though. It is a tough building to play with good atmosphere, but we’ve had success there.”

Wild to face Colorado or St. Louis in first round of the playoffs

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: April 13, 2014 - 12:01 AM

The Anaheim Ducks clinched the Western Conference a second ago. That means the division winner with the second-best record will be Colorado or St. Louis.

That means the Wild, the top wildcard team in the West, will face one of those teams in the first round of the playoffs this week.

Sunday's scenarios:

The Blues face Detroit at home at 11:30 a.m. CT. The Ducks host Colorado at 7 p.m. CT. The Wild hosts Nashville at 7 p.m. CT

- If St. Louis loses in regulation to Detroit, the Wild plays Colorado.

- If St. Louis gets a point vs. Detroit, Colorado must get a point at Anaheim to play the Wild, or the Wild plays St. Louis.

- If St. Louis beats Detroit, Colorado must beat Anaheim to play the Wild, or the Wild plays St. Louis.

Playoff series schedules will be released Sunday night. I believe the Wild will open Thursday because are there are arena conflicts in both Colorado and St. Louis on Wednesday.

Talk to you Sunday morning after the morning skates. I'll also be on Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission.

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