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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Posts about Olympic hockey

Brian Burke: USA men's hockey has "accomplished nothing"

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 22, 2010 - 3:52 PM

From the building formerly known as GM Place, the USA women are currently leading Sweden 5-1 after two periods.

I just got back up from the Brian Burke press scrum, and the American GM lit into his team like all smart coach/GM's would do after a big win that did in fact accomplish nothing other than a simpler path (would avoid Canada, Russia or Sweden to gold-medal game if they're in it) to the ultimate goal.

Some Burke highlights:

--"I’m not happy with the way we've played to this point. … We have to play significantly better. We need all hands on deck. We’re playing with about 10 guys carrying us. … Thank god there are some guys pulling on the rope, but we need everyone pulling on the rope."

--"Everything gets ratcheted up now. We’ve got to ratchet it up, too, or all this goes for naught. They don’t hand out any medals for finishing first in the preliminary round."
--"No one’s taking any bows now. I am not pleased with how we’ve played to this point."
Burke on Toronto Maple Leafs' Mikhael Grabovski (Belarus), who was arrested after an alleged bar fight the other night (no charges filed yet):
"We'll have no comment because it's still under investigation, but our preliminary reports are it seems like a minor incident. There are a backlog of cases because of the Olympics. This is a minor thing, a street fight or argument or whatever it was. They might not get to this for several weeks and then they'll let us know. We've made it clear that if he needs to appear, he'll appear, but at this point there is no charges filed.

Injured? "As far as I know he's healthy. Stupid, but healthy."

Couple other items:

--Roberto Luongo will likely get the start tomorrow vs. Germany

--NBC will televise live Wednesday U.S. game on NBC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What an honor! USA-Canada on MSNBC was third-highest rating in MSNBC history (8.2 million people).

--Wild's Antti Miettinen on why he sat on the bench in full uniform and didn't play a shift vs. Sweden: "I played like [expletive] the first two games. That’s why."

(updated) USA! USA! USA!; Luongo vs. Germany?

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 22, 2010 - 1:23 AM

So like I said, U.S. will win.

Man, what a game! NHL superstars in an Olympic setting, that was an amazing hockey game as the undermanned, underestimated, undereverything U.S. beat the Canadians in enemy territory.

Just a gritty, gritty performance, and yes, one that needed a marvelous goaltending performance from Ryan Miller. He was sensational, especially in an opening period when the Americans were outshot 19-6 and a final 3 minute in which he was peppered.

Jamie Langenbrunner, from Cloquet, scored the winning goal by deflecting Brian Rafalski's shot by Devils teammate Marty Brodeur and screened Brodeur on two Rafalski goals. Zach Parise great game. Ryan Kesler, so good, Wild fans might actually grow to love him -- until that first Canucks-Wild game again.

Chris Drury, the guy Brian Burke was so heavily criticized for taking, scored a huge goal and was terrific on the penalty kill.

"Ever since I was a Sabre fan, Drury scored big goals," said Patrick Kane. 

Mike Babcock said after the game that the Canada's goaltending had to be better, which opens the door for Roberto Luongo starting Tuesday against Germany.

Indirectly (a turnover led to a faceoff and Rafalski’s first goal) or directly (second and third goals), Brodeur’s puck-handling played a part in the United States’ first three goals. Remember, Brodeur partially got the start over Luongo because Luongo is one of the NHL’s weakest puck-handling goalies.

With Sweden beating Finland, the U.S. will play the winner of Switzerland-Belarus on Wednesday

Winner of Canada-Germany plays ... Russia Wednesday. U.S would avoid Canada or Russia until a possible gold-medal game. Basically, Canada, Russia, Sweden will get to all beat each other up. How about possibly Sid vs. Alex in the quarters with one going home?

Antti Miettinen didn't play a shift tonight. I'll tell you why in Tuesday's paper -- or you can go to my twitter to find out.

OK, that's it. You can read the game story and notebook in Monday's paper for tons more info/quotes on the U.S. victory and Russia's win over the Czechs.


Super Sunday

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 21, 2010 - 1:03 PM

Not to make you jealous, but look at my press box seat for one of the great international hockey days in the history of the world:

The press box stretches entire lower box from faceoff circles to faceoff circles. Just think of the money being tossed out the window to house us here? So thank you to the IOC.

It's been an amazing experience and today will hopefully live up to the hype.

Had a fun day yesterday covering ski jumping. First, it was nice to be outside. Second, these fearless people that soar into the air are amazing to see in person. I hurt my foot walking up to the bottom of the hill. These guys at 92 kph soar 110 to 140 meters in the air?

How do you even muster up the guts to do that the first time? I get nervous stepping off a curb.

That Swiss star, Simon Ammann, who won his fourth gold medal, is a beast. He's so good, they dropped the starting gate down four slots basically so he wouldn't fly into the crowd.

OK, hockey next. Enjoy the games and I'll be back later. For real time updates and smart aleck comments, follow me on twitter at www.twitter.com/russostrib,

Backstrom shuts out Germany; Zhid-Lits-Ky gets 3 assists vs. Latvia

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 20, 2010 - 1:21 AM

Good evening from Vancouver, early morning back in the Cities. Coming to you from the building formerly known as the GM Place, where I just watched the Finns beat Germany 5-0 behind a 24-save effort from Niklas Backstrom.

It was Backstrom's first-ever Olympic appearance. He didn't dress in the 2006 Olympics in Turin. Backstrom's best saves were a suave glove stop on a Manuel Klinge first-period breakaway, a doormouth second-period shot by Sven Felski, a second-period breakaway stop on Marco Sturm and third-period point-blank chances by Kai Hospelt, Jochen Hecht and Thomas Greilinger.

Teemu Selanne, playing his fifth Olympics, got an assist on Kimmo Timonen's second goal and is now the all-time leading Olympic scorer in history (37, passing Vlastimil Bubnik of Czechoslovakia).

No points for Mikko Koivu or Antti Miettinen.

Most productive day I had at the Olympics thus far because I actually did some non-work stuff. Woke up bright and early and took a long walk around Richmond. Dropped off my laundry (although I have no clue when I'll be able to pick it up since I'm in the mountains all day Saturday and at hockey all day Sunday). Went to Zellers to buy new gloves since as usual, I lost one (I'd rather lose two) and then came to the rink and got here by 10:30 for puck.

Reported on, then wrote a column/feature, a last-second notebook on how the heck you pronounce Marek Zidlicky's last name (here's that story), wrote my Sunday advance on USA-Canada game and now I've just completed watching my third hockey game.

It's now 11 p.m.ish local, I've got about an hour's commute back to my hotel, a 4:30 a.m. wakeup call staring me in the face and a 6 a.m. bus up to Whistler, then another 45-minute to hour busride apparently to Whistler Olympic Park, where I'll take in ski jumping and hopefully write a good feature on the two Americans who advanced to the large hill first round.

Zidlicky had three assists tonight against Latvia. He now leads the tournament with four assists in two games. Remember, he led all defensemen in the '06 Olympics with four goals. Marty Havlat, as you can read in the notebook, did not play much as he seemed to take a back seat to Jaromir Jagr (10:10 of ice time for Havlat, and taken off the power play).

His parents, Slava and Hanna, apparently (I didn't see it) were also interviewed on the Jumbotron before the game.

"How, they speak no English?" said Havlat.

Through a translator, of course.

OK, I'm going to skip a day of hockey on Saturday and go up to the mountains again and cover that ski jumping, but I'll be back at the hockey rink for a huge Sunday featuring the last three Olympic finalists -- Sweden vs. Finland, Canada vs. U.S. and Czechs vs. Russia.

Lastly, if you read my story in Saturday's paper (here's the link) on just what type of rabid atmosphere has been at these games, this is a picture Nicklas Olofsson emailed me of he and his friends.

Fiona Alexander, Johan Lindell, Nicklas Olofsson and Jess Lucas

Men's hockey tournament format

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: February 19, 2010 - 2:34 PM

I've gotten a lot of emails asking how the rest of the men's hockey tournament is formatted. My answer?

Figure it out yourself because I killed the few brains cells I have left trying to figure it out. Basically, they don't re-seed and have made it as complicated as imaginable.

I'm reading it like there's really no benefit to finishing first in your group.

Here's the link, so see for yourself

I do know this. If Canada beats the US Sunday, they get a bye into the quarterfinal. If the US loses in regulation, it would have to play a qualification game, I believe. If they lost in OT or shootout, it could still be possible for them to have a bye into the quarters. Four teams get byes.

Sweden's up 2-0 after 1 over Belarus, incidentally. Daniel Sedin and Daniel Alfredsson with goals thus far.


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