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.

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Before returning to junior, Matt Dumba talks about experience of shadowing the Wild

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: January 27, 2013 - 1:17 PM
Matt Cullen will skate on the third line with Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck tonight against the St. Louis Blues, while Pierre-Marc Bouchard will skate up on the second line with Mikael Granlund and Devin Setoguchi.
 
But coach Mike Yeo said that may juggle as well.
 
Afternoon from the press room inside the Scottrade Center in St. Louis.
 
The game is on NBC Sports Network tonight and KFAN. Niklas Backstrom vs. Brian Elliott.
 
Nate Prosser will be scratched for the Wild. Minnesota native Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise’s former Devils linemate and good pal, will be in the lineup. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said which forward comes out will depend on Minnesota’s lineup – i.e. whether Yeo dresses Matt Kassian. Yeo said this morning that decision will be made before the game, but Kassian did get some extra skating in with Prosser.
 
Marco Scandella will be paired with Jonas Brodin. They were a pair in Houston in October before Brodin was injured. Justin Falk and Clayton Stoner will be paired.
 
I will write my notebook on this for tomorrow’s paper, but obviously the defensemen have to look over their shoulder now. When Jared Spurgeon returns from his foot injury (expected this week), that’s eight defensemen. Typically only six dress.
 
Yeo says that is a good thing
 
As you know by now, Matt Dumba is on his way back to Red Deer of the Western Hockey League. The 18-year-old is ineligible for Houston because Canadian Hockey Leagues can’t play in the AHL if they’re under 20 (explains to you why Jonas Brodin could at 19). This means Dumba is ineligible next year, too.
 
Both Yeo and GM Chuck Fletcher called Dumba a “sponge.” I’ve written a gazillion times why the Wild kept him around for a week and how the organization believes this will be a valuable experience. But as I’ve indicated for a week, Dumba’s time would obviously come to an end when Brodin and Scandella were ready.
 
The Wild believes they’re ready.
 
Now it’s up to Dumba to go back to Red Deer and let that confidence drive him this second half. But he should come to training camp next fall feeling very confident. Just getting to shadow a bunch of NHLers for basically two weeks can only make him feel more comfortable in September’s camp.
 
Here is Dumba: “Coming into training camp, I didn’t expect anything like this. I didn’t expect to stay around. It was a real good experience for me being able to stay up for these two weeks and just take it all in.
 
“I think that’s huge for me, getting to know the guys personally and just knowing what it takes to be at this level. The things that happen every day, just being in the locker room, just the little stuff, the workouts, just everything that goes along with being in the NHL I’ve taken away from this.”
 
What did he learn most? “They’re great everyday. They come to the rink to work hard and be professional.”
 
Asked if he was disappointed he couldn’t at least play a game, Dumba said, “I would have loved that for sure. I’d be lying if I told you otherwise. But I’m OK. I’m OK. The experience that I did have up here was great.”
 
On his confidence going back to Red Deer: “I’ll have a ton. Just having this experience under my belt, I should be steps ahead of others guys throughout the league. I’m going to go back there with that confidence and that swag to play my best game and be confident and play with poise and be good. … Hopefully next year it sets me up well.”
 
The Wild better be ready to play a team game tonight. All four lines better be going because Hitchcock isn’t afraid to roll four lines, especially to keep the energy level up in St. Louis’ sixth game in nine nights. The Blues are one deep, good team.
 
Look out for hotshot rookie Vladimir Tarasenko and heating-up David Perron tonight.

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