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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Clutterbuck returns to practice

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Wild practice Updated: March 6, 2013 - 2:48 PM

For the first time since sustaining a thigh contusion after taking a hit from Taylor Hall in Edmonton Feb. 21, Cal Clutterbuck practiced with the Wild Wednesday.

After taking part in a very focused, up-tempo practice, Clutterbuck -- who practiced on a line with Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley -- said he felt good and could play Saturday in Nashville.

"I'm making progress,'' said Clutterbuck, who began skating on his own last Saturday. "I'm feeling pretty good right now. So I can definitely see (playing Saturday) as a possibility for sure. We still have three days. We'll take it day by day, see how I feel. But I'm pretty confident right now."

Clutterbuck said his conditioning is good, and that there are no problems with his thigh. But there is still some stiffness. "I had some other stuff going on in my leg, too, not just the quad," he said. 

Wild coach Mike Yeo said Clutterbuck looked good in practice and that there was a "good chance'' Clutterbuck would be in the lineup Saturday. 

Meanwhile, after just about everybody on the team criticized the Wild's effort Tuesday in Chicago, Yeo said he saw what he needed to see in Wednesday's practice, which featured extensive battle and game-situation drills. 

"We saw it," Yeo said of the intensity he expected. "The guys battled, and the guys worked today. And that's what this group does. We came and found a way to come to the rink and try to get better today. That's the attitude you have to have."

Goaltender Darcy Kuemper and forward Mike Rupp were the only players on the ice. Yeo said Rupp -- who was acquired from the New York Rangers in a trade in early February -- was given time to visit his family. Kuemper, meanwhile, had a sore groin even before relieving Niklas Backstrom Tuesday, and that it felt worse after the game.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher had told Mike Russo the team was considering a change with the backup goaltender, one that would give Matt Hackett some time here. But Yeo said Kuemper played well Tuesday and said he had not talked with Fletcher about a possible change. 

The Wild will have Thursday off, then practice Friday morning before heading to Nashville.

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