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Russo's Rants

Michael Russo gives you complete coverage of the Minnesota Wild and the NHL

Wild rookie Joel Eriksson Ek to make NHL debut tonight


Joel Eriksson Ek's NHL debut will come tonight when the Wild visits the New Jersey Devils (6 p.m. CT).

Eriksson Ek, held out of last night's Iowa game, was recalled today. To make room for Eriksson Ek from a salary-cap perspective, Mike Reilly was returned to Iowa.

Wearing No. 14, Eriksson Ek, 19, will play for center Erik Haula, who can barely walk right now. He will center Jason Zucker and Teemu Pulkkinen and Zac Dalpe will center the third line with Nino Niederreiter and Chris Stewart or Jason Pominville.

"I’ve always expected guys that come up to do a really good job, especially when it’s their first game," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "You go one way or the other -- you’re either too nervous and can’t deal with it or your adrenaline is flowing so much, so well, that you have a great game. From what I’ve seen of Eriksson Ek, I think he’s got a lot of composure. I think he’s going to do fine."

On his line, Boudreau said, "They can all skate, they’ll all play with enthusiasm, so we’ll see where it goes."

Eriksson Ek, the Wild's first-round pick in the 2015 draft, scored his North American pro debut earlier this week against Grand Rapids. Pretty cool goal, as you can see below.

With Reilly gone and Jared Spurgeon out tonight with an upper-body injury, Nate Prosser will make his season debut after being scratched in the first four games.

"He’s always there, he works hard everyday," Boudreau said. "He knows he’s not an everyday player so far, but he’s always ready. He’s looking forward to playing tonight."

Prosser said, "That's just kind of the name of the game it's been for me. This isn't the first year it's been like this. You know, I've got to be that positive teammate and make sure I'm rooting on my teammates and making sure they feel the positivity coming from me. Just waiting for my number to be called and tonight is the night."

Spurgeon, Haula miss Wild's Friday practice

Afternoon from New Yawk City, where my hotel room looks down on Madison Square Garden and looks off at the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

The GM of this hotel is a hockey fan.

The Wild, winners of three in a row, practiced out in Newark today in preparation for the start of its four-game trip Saturday vs. David Puddy's Devils.

Some practice updates:

The good news is the entire team made the trip, including the banged-up guys.

The bad news is two of those guys didn't practice today.

Erik Haula, whom I've mentioned has been playing on a lower-body injury for a week, definitely looked to aggravate it when he was tripped up at the defensive blue line last night. He didn't practice today. Frankly, it's amazing he has been playing ... and playing as well as he has ... when you watch him walk around off the ice.

Jared Spurgeon, who sustained an upper-body injury with 11:20 left last night when checked by Matt Martin, didn't practice.

Marco Scandella, who missed the Toronto game because of an illness, did practice.

Sooooo, what's this mean?

If Spurgeon can't play, Scandella will likely just replace him in the lineup unless Bruce Boudreau plans to maybe also sit Mike Reilly and give Nate Prosser his season debut.

If Haula can't play, the Wild will either have to make a roster move to call up a forward after 4 p.m. today or in the morning, or play seven defensemen, meaning Prosser would make his season debut if Spurgeon is also out.

Remember, the Wild's not carrying an extra forward right now.

So stay tuned. If I'm not back, talk to you Saturday.

Big Scott Stevens feature in Saturday's paper, so please give that a read. A ton of good stuff in there.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Rutgers at Gophers football

    11 am on ESPNU, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers women's hockey at Ohio State

    2 pm

  • Wild at New Jersey

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at Carolina

    6:30 pm on Ch. 29

  • Gophers men's hockey at St. Cloud State

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 1500-AM

  • Vikings at Philadelphia

    12 pm on Ch. 9, 100.3/1130

  • Wild at N.Y. Islanders

    5 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Wild at Boston

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Memphis

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Buffalo

    6 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm on BTN PLUS

  • Gophers men's hockey at Clarkson

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • St. Cloud State at Gophers women's hockey

    7:07 pm on BTN PLUS

  • Gophers football at Illinois

    11 am on 100.3-FM

Poll: How will the Vikings and Gophers do this weekend?

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Today's Scoreboard

  • LA Dodgers

    Chicago Cubs

    7:08 PM


No NFL games today

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    6:00 PM


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