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Russo's Rants

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

Good news for Wild: No changes at practice, for a change

Not much happened down at Xcel Energy Center Wednesday morning, which for your sake could be a good thing as the Wild looks for its first winning streak since Feb. 27-28 Thursday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Following a win over San Jose to snap a five-game losing streak, all lines and defense pairs were status quo for a change today.

“It was an anomaly,” deadpanned Wild coach Bruce Boudreau.

After a month of scrambling lines and lineups and positions, NOTHING changed today.

“Obviously success will be the difference of whether they stay the same or they don’t,”  Boudreau said after the Wild’s fifth practice all month. “That’s why Mikko’s line has been the same since November. They’ve had success and they found a chemistry.”









Christian Folin practiced again today and Boudreau expects him to return this weekend. With back-to-back afternoon games, maybe they only play him in one to ease him in.

Ryan White is sick with the flu and doubtful to play the Flyers, who are 2-5 in their past seven but have a .767 points percentage against the Wild since 2003-04, second-best by any team in that span.

Boudreau liked Hanzal's game against the Sharks.

“He was strong in all areas last night,” Boudreau said of Hanzal, especially when it came to outmuscling players along the boards. “Sometimes you think he’s really slow, but he’s always in the right position.”

Speedy Jordan Schroeder is also trying to take advantage of opportunity with White sick and out of the lineup.

Boudreau likes the complexion of his forth line to have some physicality there, but Schroeder has done his best to bang bodies and get in on the forecheck.

“His skating can bring energy to the rest of the group,” Boudreau said. “That’s what it does on many occasions. I’m not asking him to be physical. Sometimes you have to get in the other guys way and you have to win the battle on the boards. No matter how big the guy is, you’ve got to want it more than him. And he’s done that.

“He’s done a good job when he comes in for us. t’s unfortunate for him that sometimes he plays a good game and then next thing you know he’s sitting four or five, but credit to him for having the great attitude and then coming in that next night and doing his job.”

Schroeder admits that’s frustrating and he’s trying to up the aggressiveness to show Boudreau there’s value to keeping him in the lineup.

Chris Stewart said Wednesday's practice was all about “doing some house maintenance,” mostly in the neutral zone.

Stewart said his fights to open the past two games was his attempt to try to get his struggling team revved.

He noted with the Sharks struggling, Micheal Haley was trying to do the same coincidentally, that there was no previous grudge.

"He was coming for me, or I was coming for him," Stewart said.

Boudreau felt Devan Dubnyk had a real solid game against the Sharks other than the one boo-boo.

Here's a funny line: "Sometimes that can throw you into a funk, but goalies are a different breed. I mean, they just slough that off, and they have to. If I made a mistake like that as a forward, I would have been discombobulated for a week."

I chatted with Josh Harding last night and on the radio today, so that'll be my Sunday column. I also touched base with Nick Schultz, who may be wrapping up his NHL career. I'll write about him in Friday's paper.

That's it for me.

Russo-Souhan Show at 6 p.m. Wednesday night at Hell's Kitchen.

I'll also be on KFAN on Thursday at 9:35 a.m. and 5 p.m. I'll be on Fox Sports North Thursday night during the pregame show and first intermission.

Jim and I are also doing a Facebook Live Show at Hell's Kitchen at 4:30 p.m. Friday.

Postgame: Wild earns much-needed victory against San Jose

As you can imagine – and know – much-needed ‘W’ Tuesday night for the Wild.

3-2 victors over the San Jose Sharks, are in a skid triggered by the loss to the Wild on March 5. Since then, the Wild hasn’t played well either yet figured out a way to snap a five-game losing streak and win for a third time in 11 games this month.



Magic number for the Wild to make the playoffs a fifth consecutive season is a measly two points now – that’s a combination Wild points or lost points by the 9th-place Los Angeles Kings.

So, a Wild win over Philadelphia, regulation loss by the Kings or even overtime/shootout losses by the Wild and Kings would get it done Thursday.

Career-high 37th win for Devan Dubnyk, who matched Niklas Backstrom’s franchise record.

First season series sweep by the Wild over the Sharks in franchise history (3-0).

Couple housekeeping items before I continue:

1. I spent some time tonight watching the game with Josh Harding, and I’ll write my upcoming Sunday column on the former Wild goalie. Was good to see him.

2. Kevin Falness and I are co-hosting for Paul Allen on KFAN from 9-12 Wednesday. Huge guest list includes Martin Hanzal, who scored his first goal with the Wild tonight, Harding, former NHL coach and GM/President Doug MacLean (always a fun guest), ESPN and TSN analyst Pierre LeBrun and Gophers forward Vinnu Lettieri.

We’re doing the show from the radio studio at the arena, so I may duck out a few times after 11 to check in on practice.

Speaking of which, real quick blog to finish here because I have to be back at the rink in eight hours.

Bruce Boudreau comically opened his presser tonight by saying, “I’ll stay here for the whole one.”

As you probably know, he huffed and puffed away from the Wild backdrop after two questions following Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg. It was actually a question about the Wild’s “resiliency” that set him off, so naturally, I took the opportunity to open the presser tonight by asking about the Wild’s “resiliency.”

“It would’ve been easy to go ‘Uh-oh, here we go again,’ with the one behind the net at the end of the second, but I thought in the third we checked and checked and checked and we finally succeeded,” Boudreau said.

Boudreau was referring to Dubnyk’s puck-handling mistake on a dump-in behind the net that resulted in Patrick Marleau’s goal with a minute left in the second – and 15 seconds after Charlie Coyle scored to make it 3-1.

That capped a crazy sequence in which the two teams combined for four goals in 63 seconds – the fastest four goals by two teams in Wild history.

Still, despite a solid effort and needed win, the always honest Boudreau wasn’t celebrating. After such a poor month, he wants to see the team follow it up against the Flyers, saying, “You know what? Anybody can do anything once. So let’s see how we do Thursday.”

I’m going to toss a bunch of quotes up here now, and then hit the road.

Hanzal’s goal was originally credited to Jason Pominville and came 33 seconds after David Schlemko tied it.

Hanzal said, “To be honest, I didn’t even know it went off my stick, so it was just one of these goals.”

He played on a solid forechecking line tonight with Pominville and Nino Niederreiter, so I’d think Boudreau sticks with that for a bit.

On the line, Hanzal said, “I thought we played well. Whenever we got the puck deep and start working in their zone, we were playing really well. We just have to keep going.”

On the five-shot third period the Wild allowed, Hanzal said, “We were playing smart, disciplined, and it paid off. It was a huge victory for us right now. The way we were playing the last few games, sometimes it was even unlucky games we lost, but this was a really a huge win for us. It’s going to build the confidence of the team.”

Dubnyk, on his 37th win after five games with no wins and seven starts with no wins, said, “It’s been waiting for awhile. It felt like a long month. That was important. We’ve played some good hockey and not been rewarded. I’ve got to make things interesting at the end of the second period, of course, but it doesn’t matter after you hang on. I think this is what we needed against a really good hockey team on the other end. We can stop talking about the other stuff now. This is what we’re about.”

Coyle had another strong game with his second goal in two games, and Boudreau said, “It's been good ever since he's been on the left wing. A thing that happens with Charlie is that when he has puck he cuts to the middle on his forehand now instead of on his backhand and I think that's helping him out and I think that's helping Zach out a little bit too. I thought they both played really well tonight.”

Zach Parise, who had two assists and was solid as a rock with Coyle and Eric Staal, said, “We had a great start to the game and I think it was just good for us to get feeling good. I think we picked up where we left off against Winnipeg, did a good job forechecking and getting the puck back. And then, like we’re going to have to continue to do when you get the lead, you gotta lock it down and we did a good job of that in the third.”

Parise, on how much the team needed this win, said, “It was really important. I think the last three games, we played pretty well and didn’t get the results we wanted. I thought, outside of that first period in Winnipeg, we’ve been playing pretty good hockey, just not ending up in the win column, so it was nice to end up on that side tonight. I think we were going in the right direction, just [had] nothing to show for it.”

Coyle on winning, said, “It feels good. We are back in the win column. That's what we want. We played a pretty good game against these guys a week or two ago and that was probably our last really good game. We were kind of thinking back to that. We had that confidence against this team. We just came out the right way. It was nice to get that first one and feel good and get some momentum right away. Yeah. It was a good win for us.”

On his game turning, Coyle said, “It's nice to contribute. I just have to keep playing my game. That's it. If they go in, they go in. I just have to keep playing the way I know how -- play physical, move my feet, be a big body out there.”

That’s it for me. Please tune into KFAN in the morning, and next Russo-Souhan Show is live at Hell’s Kitchen in Minneapolis at 6 p.m. Wednesday, as well.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

< >
  • Twins at Philadelphia (spring training)

    12:05 pm

  • Philadelphia at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Baltimore at Twins (spring training)

    6:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at L.A. Lakers

    9:30 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Vancouver at Wild

    1 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Minnesota United FC at New England

    1 pm on Ch. 29, 1500-AM

  • Gophers men's hockey vs. Notre Dame

    2:30 pm on ESPNU, 1500-AM

  • Twins at Baltimore (spring training)

    5:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Portland

    9 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Wild at Detroit

    11:30 am on Ch. 11, 100.3-FM

  • Boston at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN, 96.3-FM

  • Twins at Pittsburgh (spring training)

    5:05 pm on 96.3-FM

  • Tampa Bay at Twins (spring training)

    12:05 pm on FSN

  • Timberwolves at Indiana

    6 pm on FSN PLUS, 830-AM

  • Washington at Wild

    7 pm on NHLN, 100.3-FM

  • Twins at Boston (spring training)

    12:05 pm on 96.3-FM

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Today's Scoreboard

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No MLS games today