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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Gophers' Lucia on polls, goalie situation, taking Budish off Bjugstad-Rau line

Posted by: Michael Russo under Gophers sports, Gophers coaches, Gophers players, On the road Updated: October 10, 2012 - 2:53 PM

The Gophers open the season against Wild prospect and former Shattuck-St. Mary’s star defenseman John Draeger and the Michigan State Spartans this Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (8 p.m.).

The Gophers are 101-44-13 all-time against the Spartans, although they’re just 4-4-5 since 2000-01. They were 0-1-1 in East Lansing last season.
 
Check out Thursday's paper for a feature on Nick Bjugstad.
 
The Gophers held media access this afternoon, and veteran coach Don Lucia, in search of career win Nos. 598 and 599 this weekend, addressed a few subjects:
 
On this weekend’s lineup: “We’ll do a lot of experimenting this weekend and probably try to play quite a few guys from Friday to Saturday night before we go to Michigan Tech the next weekend and we’re limited to who we can take. Both goalies will play this weekend, and this is the first weekend we can start to find out more about our team.”
 
Do you expect to rotate goalies Michael Shibrowski and Adam Wilcox the first couple weeks? “At least that’s the plan right now. You look at October with this weekend, going to Houghton and then I think we have the U.S. [Under-18 Team] and Canisius, I think if you asked me today, more than likely we’d probably split the first three weekends and then head into November and see where we’re at. But I think it’s important to see your goaltenders at home, it’s important to see how they react on the road and then if they both play well, they’ll continue to play. I’ve had teams where we’ve rotated goalies all season long – I mean, right to the end – and I’ve had other years like last year where the goalie played every night. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays itself out.”
 
Do you look at Zach Budish playing with Erik Haula this year as opposed to last year when he played with Nick Bjugstad and Kyle Rau, and if so, how’d you come to that decision? “We looked at it as Erik’s a good player, too, and sometimes Erik gets kind of forgotten. Everybody talks about Nick, but Erik did lead our team in scoring a year ago. When we looked at our team this year and who we felt the top four forwards were, we felt with Rau and Bjugstad and Haula and Budish. Well, if we can do it, it’d be nice to have two on two different lines rather than three on one. We could move [Nate] Condon up, but I liked the way Condon and [Travis] Boyd played together at the end of last year. It gives us a lot of comfort if we can spread the guys out a little bit with three lines that we can go into a game and really not worry which line’s out against who. So that’s why we’re trying Christian [Isackson] up there with [Bjugstad and Rau]. Obviously it worked well in that first game [with a hat trick], but he’s a guy that has to step forward and show us that he can play with those two. He’s got the skill. He can make some plays. He has to continue to learn to play at a pace and compete on pucks. He did a nice job of that in Game One, but now he’s got to continue to do that.”
 
(Lucia said he may continue to juggle things around, but right now, Sam Warning will play with Budish and Haula; Lucia noted that Seth Ambroz played with Haula in junior hockey, so that’s always a possibility, too).
 
Have you made a decision if you’ll redshirt Blake Thompson? “No, we have not. We don’t have to make a decision yet. We’ve talked to him about that, so it is an option. But it’s an option we don’t have to worry about for a few weeks. We’ll see where we’re at injury-wise, we’ll see where we’re at personnel-wise. Today, I think we feel comfortable with nine or 10 of our forwards in our lineup. Now the question becomes what else do we do with Forward 11 and 12? We got some freshmen, we’ve got Jared Larson, do we move a defenseman up? Those are some things that we’re going to keep experimenting with because I don’t want to have a guy sitting out that could help us even if it’s a defenseman that has to move up.”
 
On being the preseason No. 1? “Last year we were No. 6 in the league, so what does it really mean? I think they should start taking polls after Thanksgiving when people have actually had a chance to play a game. You don’t see preseason polls in the NHL, ‘Here’s 1 through 30.’ You know, how do you know? Let’s play some games. Some teams are going to get rated higher than they should and others lower than they should because you really don’t know. We’re rated where we are because of how we finished last year – good or bad. But we have to prove it. We haven’t proven anything yet.”
 
On his health: “I just got my last thing back from the Mayo today that I’m good to go, and everything came back great.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Brooklyn 109 FINAL
Boston 107
Cleveland 98 FINAL
Orlando 89
Indiana 109 FINAL
Detroit 119
Milwaukee 107 FINAL
Atlanta 77
Houston 117 FINAL
Memphis 111
San Antonio 90 FINAL
New Orleans 97
Charlotte 75 FINAL
Oklahoma City 98
LA Lakers 98 FINAL
Dallas 102
Minnesota 102 FINAL
Denver 106
Philadelphia 93 FINAL
Portland 114
Phoenix 115 FINAL
Sacramento 106
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
(15) Arizona State 1:10 PM
Duke
Miami-Florida 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

<
Gophers Football Time W L Score
2014 season     
Aug 28 - vs. E. Illinois 6 pmX42-20
Sep 6 - vs. M. Tennessee St. 2:30 pmX35-24
Sep 13 - at TCU 3 pmX30-7
Sep 20 - vs. San Jose St. 3 p.m.X24-7
Sep 27 - at Michigan 2:30 pmX30-14
Oct 11 - vs. Northwestern 11 amX24-17
Oct 18 - vs. Purdue 11 amX39-38
Oct 25 - at Illinois 11 amX28-24
Nov 8 - vs. Iowa 11 amX51-14
Nov 15 - vs. Ohio State 11 amX31-24
Nov 22 - at Nebraska 11 amX28-24
Nov 29 - at Wisconsin 2:30 pmX34-24
Jan 1 - vs. Missouri noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What's your favorite Gophers football uniform colors?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT