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Russo's Rants

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

Wild practice report: Spurgeon back, Scandella likely out

After returning home from back-to-back shutout victories on the road, the Wild held an optional practice Friday at Xcel. Jared Spurgeon--who has missed four games with an upper-body injury--was among six defensemen to participate and declared himself completely ready to return to play. That's particularly welcome news for a team that lost Marco Scandella to a lower-body injury in Thursday's 4-0 win at Buffalo.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said Scandella is day-to-day and that he has to "just see how it goes.'' Spurgeon, on the other hand, said he felt good after getting his second full-practice test since the injury, With the help of strength and conditioning coach Sean Skahan, he's kept his fitness and feels ready to get back in.

"Sean's been doing a great job keeping me in shape,'' Spurgeon said. "I was able to skate a couple days before (the two practices) without the team. That's always huge, when you're able to be on the ice and not lose your skating legs.''

Erik Haula (foot injury), who also has missed four games, did not practice. Boudreau said he hopes Haula will be ready to return by early next week.

Also on Friday, the Wild put winger Teemu Pulkkinen on waivers. Boudreau wouldn't speculate whether Pulkkinen would clear, saying he would wait to see what happens and make any necessary decisions afterward. "We just need flexibility,'' Boudreau said of the decision to waive Pulkkinen. "We've got a couple guys hurt, and we need that flexibility right now.''

Pulkkinen has one goal this season in eight games while averaging 9:09 of ice time per game.

Friday's practice was made optional to give some players a day of rest after the long road trip. Several veterans did participate, including Ryan Suter, whose nine points have him tied with Shea Weber and Brent Burns atop the NHL's defensemen scoring standings. Nate Prosser played an unusual role, filling in at left wing to allow the Wild to have three forward lines at the workout. "I don't think he's going to be playing that too often,'' Boudreau said with a laugh.


Postgame: Balanced scoring, back-to-back shutouts, Wild returns home confident

Heck of a way to finish the four-game road trip for the Wild by shutting out Boston and Buffalo two nights apart.

Devan Dubnyk stopped 65 shots combined for consecutive shutouts for the second time in his career and first time since Feb. 3 and 7, 2015 – his eighth and ninth starts as a member of the Wild.

The Wild’s defensemen were outstanding tonight. Playing all trip without Jared Spurgeon (who could return Saturday against Dallas), the Wild lost Marco Scandella 10 minutes into the game. Scandella’s right knee looked to plant underneath him, and he was in pain as he hopped to the bench after the pileup (coach Bruce Boudreau didn’t have an update yet as to how long he’ll be out).

But from there, all five of the remaining D stepped up and even outshot the forwards tonight.

Ryan Suter, one game after scoring a goal and an assist and being +3 with four shots, had, uh, a goal, an assist and was +3 with four shots.

Model of consistency for the stalwart defenseman who’s off to a terrific start to his year.

Matt Dumba took a brunt of Scandella’s minutes, too. He had to play the left and right side and had four shots in 25:54 solid minutes. Good games, too, for Nate Prosser, Jonas Brodin and Christian Folin.

Prosser and Scandella, by the way, assisted on Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal. Folin assisted on Suter’s. That means all 20 Wild skaters on the roster have a point this season. The Wild has 28 goals, which is first in the West and second in the NHL by a goal to Montreal (as of right this second).

The Wild’s 5-2-1 record puts it atop the Central by a point.

Eriksson Ek scored a beauty goal tonight to get the Wild off and running. It wound up amounting to his first career game-winning goal one game after his first career three-assist and three-point game.

On the road trip, he had two goals and five points. His parents, Anna Ek and Claus Eriksson, are currently on their way to Minnesota from Sweden to witness his first ever homestand.

“It’s been a fun week. Went really well. Overexpecting,” Eriksson Ek said. “It’s been really fun.”

Bruce Boudreau said, “He’s getting better every night. One of these days I’m going to put him on the power play. He’s done everything and more that we’ve asked of him so far.”

Some more postgame quotes, and as usual, please read the game story and game notebook in the paper and on the page for all the coverage from tonight’s game.

Eriksson Ek on Dubnyk: “He was amazing. He saved everything. He was really good.”

On playing at home for the first time, Eriksson Ek said, “It’s going to be really fun. I’ve heard great things about them (the fans).”

Boudreau on the win: “It feels good. The guys wanted to win pretty bad and I thought that first period was as good as a first period as we played in a long time.”

On the Wild’s 2 for 2 penalty kill, which is now 22 for 23: “They had some chances on the first power play. I think on the second power play they had, we were more of a demoralizing fact to them and it got our group going more than it got their group going.”

On leading the league in goals (they were when I asked the question): “Why not? I don’t know what to say, but I always think we’re going to be the best at everything, but doesn’t usually work out that way. That’s fun doing that.”

On the balanced scoring: “That’s awesome. That’s good for them. It’s a confidence builder. Now when they go out, everybody thinks that they can be the guys that get the job done.”

On Dumba: “He’s come through with Spurge down. He’s elevated his game. Ever since the threat of sitting him out, he’s been really good.”

On Staal not being awarded a penalty shot for the second time this season, Boudreau, unsolicited, asked, “Does anybody think that should have been a penalty shot? I’m just asking. If you guys can find out what the explanation of what a penalty shot is in the league, please let me know. He got a shot away, and I thought that rule went out in ‘72.”

Dubnyk on this rink, where he made his Wild debut in 2015 with a 7-0 shutout: “It's a nice feeling to finish the road trip that way and keep the good feeling in this rink. Unfortunately we only play here once a year. I've said it before. This is a special place for me. It all began here with these guys. So there will always be good memories of that no matter what here.”

Dubnyk on making 19 saves in the second: “It felt like obviously they were coming and they got a big push on the PP. We knew they were going to come back. We played them hard in the first and we knew they were going to have a push. I don't know if we knew the push was going to be that strong. When we get a two-goal lead and we get some guys working in our end and keeping the puck out of the net we're able to have a chance to weather those.”

Dubnyk on his play: “It's about finding the puck and being patient. That has a lot to do with trusting the guys in front of me and trusting what's going on and who's covered and what I need to worry about. The guys have done a great job for me so far on allowing me to do my job. It makes it fun to play.”

Dumba on the play of the D: “It [stinks] seeing Scandy go down. Just like we say Jared go down the other night. It was a testament to our group being mentally prepared for the game. Us D men, everyone just stepped up, and all five of us back here had a great game tonight and just helped the team.”

Dumba on his confidence: “It's been good. I've known I could play like this. Just getting these minutes it's awesome I just want to be able to do whatever I can for my team. If that's playing more and being better with the puck, all the little things, being good in my zone, those are the things I'm going to do and just try to be as successful as we can.”

Dumba on balanced scoring: “It's crazy. The last couple years we didn't really feel that love. It's nice. Hopefully we can keep that going.”

Dumba on Dubnyk: It's awesome. He's carrying us right now. You've got to ride that wave.

Suter on the second period: “Duby bailed us out there in the second.”

Suter on balanced scoring: “That's how we have to win. We don't have the superstars. We need everybody on the team participating and so far we've been able to do that. Hopefully we can keep that going.”

Suter on the trip: “Bruce was telling us to win the week. This was a big game for that. Now we've got a tough challenge going back home. So we have to make sure we're ready for that and come out on home ice the way we finished the road trip.”

That’s it for me.

I’m taping the Russo-Souhan Show in the late morning, so pay attention to our Twitter accounts for when we ask for questions.

I’m filling in for Dan Barreiro on KFAN from 3-6:30. Lots of Wild talk and lots of guests, including maybe Bruce Boudreau. I’ll also be talking Gophers football, Vikings and the World Series.

Rachel Blount is covering practice.

TV Listings

Local Schedule

  • 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

  • Denver at Timberwolves

    7 pm on FSN, 830-AM

  • Bemidji State at Gophers men's basketball

    7 pm on 1500-AM

Today's Scoreboard

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    7:08 PM


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