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Russo's Rants

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

Wild power-play tinkering tonight features former Sabres captain

The Wild wraps up its four-game trip tonight in Buffalo. The Sabres blew a 3-0 third-period lead in Philly a few nights ago, so coach Bruce Boudreau is expecting a surly opponent in only the Sabres' second home game.

Some Minnesota ties in the Sabres' lineup: Kyle Okposo, former Wild winger Matt Moulson, who's off to a good start, and former Gopher Hudson Fasching, who's playing on Buffalo's fourth line with Derek Grant and Nicolas Deslauriers. Fasching had six hits in Philly the other night and drew a penalty that led to a power-play goal.

He hopes to play his first career NHL game in St. Paul on Tuesday. I talked to him this morning and will write a bit about him in the notebook in Friday's paper.

Also, former Shattuck-St. Mary's coach Tom Ward is a Sabres' assistant and will be an eye in the sky tonight.

Jared Spurgeon and Erik Haula won't play tonight, so same lineup. Depending on tomorrow's practice, coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday against Dallas is a possibility.

Devan Dubnyk vs. Anders Nilsson.

A couple power play changes. Nino Niederreiter looks like he'll start on one of the units.

Also, with defensemen Marco Scandella having 10 of his shots blocked the past two games and Jonas Brodin fanning on shots lately, one of those two will take a back seat tonight on the power play.

Jason Pominville will get back to his long-time role with the Wild at the point.

"He's a jack of all trades," Boudreau said of the former Sabres captain. "He kills penalties. Tonight he's going to play some point on the power play. I put him in on the third, fourth, or second line. He's a guy that has experience that takes whatever assignment he has very seriously and he does a good job with it."

On Pominville playing the point, "We just want to try something different. I think it's important to get a lefty-righty instead of two lefties. Because when you come back after the power play we only have two righties that haven't played the power play. You don't like to come back with two righties against what's usually the other team's top line. So if we can make it where -- at least until Spurgeon gets back -- that we have a right-lefty up there, then we can come back defensively with a lefty-righty."

Talk to ya later.

Wild hopes to end road trip on a high Thursday in Buffalo

Good day from beautiful Buffalo, where the Wild held a very optional practice at First Niag, I mean, now Key Bank Center this afternoon.

It'll always be Marine Midland Arena in my heart.

The Wild, tied for the most goals in the National Hockey League and tied for the top spot in the Western Conference wink, hopes to finish off this roadie on a high Thursday by snagging a fourth and fifth point out of a possible eight.

Injured Jared Spurgeon and Erik Haula took part in today's optional, but coach Bruce Boudreau indicated that neither one would return against the Sabres.

"When they're healthy enough to play, they'll play," Boudreau said.

Boudreau may also be thinking, why rush Spurgeon back when Christian Folin's game keeps getting better, Matt Dumba has played well with Ryan Suter the past three games and has played four good games in a row and, frankly, Tuesday's game against Boston may not get to the second period scoreless if not for two solid defensive plays by Nate Prosser.

The Wild, tied with a league-high 24 goals, is 7-2-2 in its past 11 games against the Sabres, outscoring them 37-23. It is 7-2 all-time in Buffalo, including three wins in a row.

Other tidbits:

-- Joel Eriksson Ek is coming off becoming the first Wild teenager in history and fourth Wild rookie to have three assists in a game (Pascal Dupuis, Mikko Koivu and Nick Johnson). He’s the second Wild rookie in history to be +3 in a game (Justin Fontaine).

-- The Wild leads the NHL with 16 players who have scored at least one goal. That’s three more than any team. Mikael Granlund is the only Wild forward without a goal and the only Wild player to have played all seven games without a goal.

-- The Wild’s first-period goal and shot differential is -2 and -22. Its second-period goal and shot differential is a league-best +9 (15-6) and +22.

-- The Wild has the NHL’s second-best penalty kill (20 for 21, 95.2 percent.

-- Sabres C Jack Eichel (ankle) and LW Evander Kane (ribs) are out. G Robin Lehner (ill) is questionable. He didn't practice today.

-- Former Sabre Zac Dalpe didn't face any league discipline for his boarding minor against the Bruins. Dalpe was pretty good talking about his fight with former teammate Tim Schaller. It was his first career fight, and I'll write more about it in Thursday's game notebook. Schaller and Dalpe texted after the game and all's good.

-- Boudreau threw Chris Stewart on Dalpe's line after the boarding penalty just to protect Dalpe in case of retribution.

"Everybody wants a big brother. They want to feel safe," Boudreau said. "Stewy makes them feel safe. That's good. I think that's something we need."

On Dalpe, Boudreau said, "He plays hard. He's doing everything he can to stay in the NHL. I think he's doing a real good job."

-- Boudreau quote on last night: "I thought we were better on video than we were live. Maybe that's just the critique in me. I watched it, and thought, 'Maybe that wasn't a bad play, maybe we are forcing them into mistakes. CORSI numbers, I don't know if we would have won that battle. But we played pretty good, we got great goaltending when we needed to, and I don't think they did, and that was the difference."

Talk to ya Thursday. I'm filling in for Barreiro on KFAN from 3-6:30 p.m. Friday. Planning a first hour roundtable with Anthony LaPanta, Mike Greenlay and Kevin Gorg. I'm sure there will be plenty of laughs.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

  • 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 BTN, 100.3-FM

  • Gophers men's hockey at St. Lawrence

    6 pm on 1500-AM

  • New York at Minnesota United FC

    7 pm on Ch. 29

  • Dallas at Wild

    7 pm on FSN, 100.3-FM

  • Timberwolves at Sacramento

    9:30 pm on FSN/NBATV, 830-AM

  • Vikings at Chicago

    7:30 pm on ESPN, 100.3/1130

  • Memphis at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Buffalo at Wild

    7 pm on FSN PLUS, 100.3-FM

Today's Scoreboard

No MLB games today

  • Jacksonville


    7:25 PM


  • Washington


    6:30 PM

  • Boston


    7:00 PM


  • San Antonio


    9:30 PM

  • LA Clippers


    9:30 PM


  • Minnesota



    - 1st, 3:50



  • Arizona



    - 1st, 9:50



  • NY Islanders



    - 1st, 3:40



  • Tampa Bay



    - 1st, 19:30



  • Florida



    - 1st, 19:30



  • Detroit

    St. Louis

    7:00 PM

  • Dallas


    7:00 PM

  • Nashville

    Los Angeles

    9:30 PM

  • Columbus

    San Jose

    9:30 PM

  • Montreal



    - H



  • Sporting Kansas City


    9:00 PM