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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Johan Larsson's NHL debut, Jason Zucker's season debut highlights Wild lines vs. Detroit

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: February 17, 2013 - 5:03 PM

The Wild will host the Red Wings at 5 p.m. in front of a soldout crowd at Xcel Energy Center.

Forwards Zenon Konopka and Pierre-Marc Bouchard won't play for the Wild, as won't defenseman Justin Falk. Bouchard and Falk are sick, although coach Mike Yeo said Bouchard is feeling a little better.

Yeo said Konopka was scratched primarily for numbers reasons and "this is for tonight." But Yeo also admitted he didn't like Konopka's penalty on Greg Zanon Thursday against Colorado. The minor resulted in Milan Hejduk's go-ahead, power-play goal in the second period.

Johan Larsson will make his NHL debut. Jason Zucker will make his season debut.

"These guys are two guys we've been anxious to watch for quite some time," Yeo said. "They've been doing a great job. ... [Zucker], we feel he can provide some speed and scoring ability. Lars is the kind of guy that can help us generate momentum and be a guy that is real tough to play against as far as getting to the offensive zone, being strong on the puck, winning battles, being good defensively. We like the play that he plays the game."

Darcy Kuemper gets the start. Niklas Backstrom will back up but has the flu, says Chuck Fletcher

Your lines are:

Forwards

Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Dany Heatley

Jason Zucker-Matt Cullen-Devin Setoguchi

Johan Larsson-Kyle Brodziak-Cal Clutterbuck

Mike Rupp-Mikael Granlund-Torrey Mitchell

Defensemen

Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon

Clayton Stoner-Tom Gilbert

Jonas Brodin-Nate Prosser

Suter has played real well the past five or six games. Asked if he was hesitant to break up Suter and Brodin, Yeo explained that with Falk out, the Wild doesn't have any right-shot defenseman that is comfortable playing the left side.

Brodin as a lefty has been comfortable playing the right side, which is what allowed that Suter-Brodin pair to work.

With no games til Thursday in Edmonton and three extra bodies right now, don't be surprised at all if the Wild sends Zucker and/or Larsson back tomorrow. Could happen.

I'll be on Fox Sports North at 4:45 p.m. and also during the first intermission.

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