This is Michael Russo's 18th year covering the National Hockey League. He's covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005 following 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. Michael 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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Matt Dumba, 18, will return to Western Hockey League Red Deer for the season this morning.
The 2012 first-round pick had been on the roster since last Saturday's opener but hadn't played a game. The Wild has recalled Marco Scandella, and he is expected to play tonight against the St. Louis Blues.
We haven't spoken with Dumba or coach Mike Yeo yet, but Yeo said the other day: "He's participating in practices, he's participating in warmup. For a guy like that to be around NHL players and not only have the chance to skate and practice with them, but to also see how they prepare and how they conduct themselves, it's been very valuable to him."
The interesting thing is Dumba will be ineligible for Houston next fall because he's 19, so he could be in for this type of scenario again.
Matt Cullen is on the ice this morning. Jared Spurgeon has not been placed on injured reserve, so technically he could play Tuesday against Columbus.
SUNDAY MORNING UPDATE
Marco Scandella has indeed been recalled by the Wild;
Trying to find out if Jared Spurgeon (foot) has been placed on injured reserve, meaning at the very minimum, he cannot play vs. Columbus at home on Tuesday, OR if Matt Dumba is being returned to Red Deer. He is not skating today but still here.
But Scandella has to be squeezed onto the roster by one of those moves. Matt Cullen is on the ice.
The Houston Aeros won its third consecutive game tonight with a 5-2 pounding of Grand Rapids on the road. It was their second straight night winning in that building.
Charlie Coyle scored twice, Johan Larsson, Nick Palmieri and David McIntyre once, Chay Genoway and Justin Fontaine had two assists apiece and Darcy Kuemper made 33 saves. Jason Zucker had an assist and now deservedly heads to Providence for the AHL All-Star Game.
The one player nowhere to be found in tonight's Houston lineup? Defenseman Marco Scandella.
My gut says he was scratched because he is on his way to join the Wild here in St. Louis.
First, he returned in Friday's 1-0 win from a five-week groin injury and by all accounts played well with a plus-1 and three shots.
Second, the entire Minnesota Wild front office is somehow missing in action tonight when it comes to responding to my incessant queries.
The Wild's at 23 players, so the only way to fit Scandella onto the roster is to: 1) Place Jared Spurgeon (foot) on injured reserve retroactive to last Tuesday (that would mean he would have to miss Tuesday's game against Columbus as well); 2) return Matt Dumba to Western Hockey League Red Deer, which after being scratched in four consecutive games to start the season, is clearly going to happen at some point; 3) Place Matt Cullen on injured reserve, which is unlikely because he would have to miss a week, coach Mike Yeo says he simply got practice off Saturday and expects him to play against St. Louis and because the Wild didn't call up a forward.
Regardless, my money is on Scandella suddenly making an appearance here in St. Louis on Sunday morning.
Who's he play for if he arrives? My guess is Nate Prosser. It's obviously not for Ryan Suter, Tom Gilbert or Jonas Brodin. Clayton Stoner was one of the Wild's best defensemen the first 3 games and after Saturday's practice, Yeo said he feels Justin Falk has played some good hockey and he hasn't been happy with Prosser's past two games.
We shall see.
The Blues won 4-3 at Dallas this evening. Niklas Backstrom vs. Brian Elliott in St. Louis' sixth game in nine nights.
Talk to you Sunday.
After only one game back in Houston's lineup, defenseman Jonas Brodin is on his way to Minnesota, multiple sources tell me this morning. The 2011 first-round pick who helped lead Sweden to last year's gold at the world junior championships should be here in time for this morning's practice.
Appears my gut feel on yesterday's blog was accurate.
While it's still uncertain that Brodin will make his NHL debut Friday in Detroit (depends on Jared Spurgeon's health or if the Wild would scratch one of its healthy D for him), I just got this sense that the Wild felt Brodin was so close in training camp that he only needed the one trial test in the minors before coming here officially.
Brodin, 19, broke his clavicle on Nov. 2 when nailed late in the game in Oklahoma City by Taylor Hall. He subsequently underwent surgery. Last night was his first game back for the Aeros -- a victory.
I watched the game on a very blurry AHL Live and he was his typical mobile self, patient, moved the puck well, etc.
The big question now: what does this mean for Matt Dumba? Is he returned to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League today or does he come on the two-game road trip to Detroit and St. Louis to provide depth in case of injury.
My guess is the Wild makes that decision after practice today. It would first have to be sure Spurgeon is OK.
Marco Scandella may return to Houston's lineup tomorrow in Grand Rapids. He hasn't played since Dec. 20 because of a groin injury. He is next on the depth chart.
With Hockey Day Minnesota getting off to an unofficial start this evening as the Gophers host rival North Dakota, the Wild is ready to open the 2013 season Saturday night at 8 p.m. against the Northwest Division rival Colorado Avalanche.
It'll be the nightcap to Hockey Day on Fox Sports North.
We have a lot of coverage in Saturday's paper, including my season advance on how the Wild says it's time for the organization to take the next step and end its four-year playoff drought.
Each player got undershirts that read, "TAKE THE NEXT STEP. NO EXCUSES."
Also, Chip Scoggins wrote a real good column on Mikko Koivu and how he's handling almost being overshadowed as captain and I wrote a notebook on a number of subjects and of course a preview box on the game.
The news of the day:
-- Tom Gilbert (groin) says he is "good to go," meaning Matt Dumba likely won't make his NHL debut.
-- Pierre-Marc Bouchard is excited to play his first game in more than a year.
-- Coach Mike Yeo said Matt Kassian will likely not play, but Yeo did say that if Colorado brought a tough lineup, which may include minor-league fighter Patrick Bordeleau, than Kassian may be in the lineup. My guess: If that's the case, maybe Darroll Powe won't play because Kassian could take his left-wing spot and Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell are a PK pair.
The Wild is 10-0-1 in home openers AT Xcel Energy Center (I put that caveat because technically the Wild didn't win its "home opener" against Carolina in Helsinki), including 10 consecutive wins.
Niklas Backstrom (20-5-2 all-time vs. Colorado) vs. Semyon Varlamov (4-0 against the Wild) on Saturday.
I will be on KFAN at 12:55 p.m. AND 6:45 p.m. Saturday and I will now be a contributor all season periodically on Fox Sports North. I should be on Saturday at 3:45 p.m.ish depending on when the high school game ends.
Talk to you Saturday. Opening Night everybody. Finally!
The Wild is currently on the ice for practice -- its last before Saturday's 8 p.m. opener against Colorado. Defenseman Tom Gilbert (groin) is practicing, so if he gets the clearance, he should be in Saturday's lineup.
If that's the case, Matt Dumba likely wouldn't play in the opener over the other six healthy defensemen.
Forwards Nick Palmieri, Stephane Veilleux and Jake Dowell have all cleared waivers and will be assigned to AHL Houston, says a source.
Official rosters must be submitted to the league Friday at 4 p.m. -- changed from 2 -- but as you know, the roster on yesterday's blog is the anticipated official roster.
“BECOMING WILD” PRESENTED BY TOYOTA BACK ON AIR
TUESDAY, JAN. 22 WITH NEW EPISODES
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The National Hockey League’s (NHL) Minnesota Wild today announced that Emmy Award-winning “Becoming Wild” presented by Toyota returns to FOX Sports North on Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 10 p.m. after the Wild game’s versus Nashville, with an episode featuring Tom Gilbert shot in Madison, Wis.
“Becoming Wild” will also take fans exclusively to the hometowns of players Niklas Backstrom (Helsinki, Finland), Dany Heatley (Kelowna, B.C.) and Mikko Koivu (Turku, Finland).
“Becoming Wild” Premiere Dates:
Episode 3 Tuesday, Jan. 22 10:00 p.m. Tom Gilbert in Madison, Wisconsin
Episode 4 Tuesday, Jan. 29 10:00 p.m. Niklas Backstrom in Helsinki, Finland
Episode 5 Monday, Feb. 4 7:00 p.m. Dany Heatley in Kelowna, British Columbia
Episode 6 Tuesday, Feb. 12 8:00 p.m. Mikko Koivu in Turku, Finland
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