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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Mike Yeo talks about decision to send Mikael Granlund to Houston

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 12, 2013 - 12:39 PM

 

The Wild hosts the Anaheim Ducks, who have the second-best record in the NHL and have lost once in regulation in the past 14 games.
 
Niklas Backstrom vs. Viktor Fasth or Jonas Hiller. Said coach Bruce Boudreau humorously and with a grin, “One of those two will go, … and with good reason.”
 
Both have beaten the Wild this season. Defenseman Tom Gilbert, who missed Sunday’s win over Vancouver with the flu, returns and will be paired with Justin Falk, who played well the past few games. So did Clayton Stoner, and Jared Spurgeon continues to be on top of his game.
 
Nate Prosser sits. The Wild continues to go with the same four lines, so Pierre-Marc Bouchard continues to be the odd man out.
 
Big opportunity for the Wild tonight. It hasn’t won three in a row all year and wants to continue to sit atop the Northwest Division. Vancouver is in Columbus, which has won five in a row. The Wild is 0-2 against the Ducks, but the Wild did dominate the last two periods of the 3-2 loss in Anaheim a few weeks ago.
 
As you know, the Wild reassigned Mikael Granlund to the minors. Very smart move. He has been scratched five times and four times in the past eight games. Coach Mike Yeo is trying to settle on lines and has found identities with each.
 
Charlie Coyle is playing with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu. The Jason Zucker-Matt Cullen-Devin Setoguchi line continues to look good and frankly probably warrants more ice time. Granlund shouldn’t be on the fourth line. The Wild wants a big, tough, aggressive fourth line, one that spends time in the offensive zone, creates momentum and is defensively responsible. Mike Rupp, Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell have played well together. That leaves the third line of Cal Clutterbuck, Kyle Brodziak and Dany Heatley. Yeo is not sitting those three.
 
So sending Granlund to Houston, where he can play on the first line and first power-play unit and get his confidence and his game back is the smart decision here. As big as the expectations were for Granlund, the reality is most top players in the NHL develop in the AHL.
 
“Young kids have to play,” Yeo said. “The lineup that we have right now deserve to go out there again and gives another a chance to play the way we have the last couple games. As an organization, he’s too important to us to have him sit here not playing. We need to make sure that he’s on top of his game and continuing to develop to play important minutes and important role.”
 
So, this could be for two weeks, two months, whatever. He’ll be back. We saw the Wild sent Charlie Coyle back to Houston for a week or so, he says he felt much more confident down there and that has filtered to even a better player once recalled.
 
“Confidence is everything,” Coyle said. I'll have more stuff from Coyle on Granlund, a fellow 2010 first-rounder, in tomorrow's paper (notebook).
 
Yeo said Granlund was “understanding but disappointed. And that’s good. I don’t think we want people around here that aren’t extremely driven and proud. And certainly he’s that. We’re also confident that he’ll go down and handle it the right way, too.”
 
It’s easy to see why Coyle and Jason Zucker function in the NHL. Coyle is big and fast and goes to the net. Zucker is super fast and a finisher. Granlund lacks size and foot speed, in my opinion. I asked Yeo what Granlund has to do to overcome a couple deficiencies. Yeo says not to worry. He will adjust to the NHL game and has shown signs of this, Yeo said. In fact, Granlund was starting to play better. But Yeo wants everybody to play a certain role and has settled on these lines.
 
“He’ll get there. He’ll get there,” Yeo said. “In fairness to him, he’s done a lot of good things when he’s been in the lineup, too. I know as a coaching staff we have a great deal of confidence in him that we can put him out there. He’s definitely learned how to battle and compete at this level. His pace will not be a problem whatsoever in this game. It’s just a matter of continuing to develop, continuing to get confidence and learning the league. We have no doubt that he’ll get there.”
 
There is no shame in playing in the AHL. This is why teams have affiliations.
 
“Most the great players in this league have spent some quality time in the AHL,” Yeo said. “It’s just a step in his development and this is just an opportunity for him to go there to get some confidence, get some quality minutes and to make sure when we need him that he’s on top of his game. … This kid is just a huge part of our organization and this is just what we needs and what we need for him right now.”
 
Mikko Koivu celebrates his 30th birthday today. He says, “I still feel like a young pup.”
 
He had dinner last night with brother, Saku, and Mikko bought “as usual.” Koivu joked that the first thing he thought about this morning is how he has had to deal with me for eight years. I joked, “Good thing you only have another five years left on your deal.”
 
 

Finally,

here is the highlight video

produced by Pat O'Connor and his crew from the 2013 Minnesota High School State hockey tournament.

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Tampa 6 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
LA Clippers 96 FINAL
Chicago 86
Cleveland 103 FINAL
Houston 105
Golden State 106 FINAL
Boston 101
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
Indiana 94
Portland 110 FINAL
Sacramento 99
Charlotte 98 FINAL
Orlando 83
Oklahoma City 108 FINAL
LA Lakers 101
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Denver 92
Los Angeles 2 FINAL
Winnipeg 5
Tampa Bay 3 FINAL
Florida 4
Columbus 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 5
Toronto 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Anaheim 3 3rd Prd 5:51
Dallas 1
St. Louis 2 2nd Prd
Vancouver 2
SMU 73 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Quinnipiac 65 FINAL
Manhattan 69
Fairfield 56 FINAL
Niagara 57
Marist 49 FINAL
Rider 59
Iona 60 FINAL
Saint Peters 68
Oregon State 56 FINAL
California 73
South Florida 55 FINAL
Houston 72
Marquette 66 FINAL
Providence 77
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
Siena 57 FINAL
Monmouth 63
Pittsburgh 66 FINAL
Wake Forest 69
Oregon 73 FINAL
Stanford 70
Purdue 61 FINAL
Ohio State 65
Arizona State 72 2nd Half 3:49
Colorado 73
Washington St 34 2nd Half
UCLA 32
Georgetown 66 FINAL
Providence 81
Binghamton 50 FINAL
UMBC 73
Elon 65 FINAL
Hofstra 58
Virginia Tech 47 FINAL
Boston College 49
(8) Louisville 59 FINAL
Virginia 75
Texas 69 FINAL
West Virginia 76
Creighton 53 FINAL
Villanova 61
Seton Hall 85 FINAL
Butler 76
UNC-Wilmington 76 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 65
(5) Maryland 69 FINAL
(25) Northwestern 48
Saint Josephs 67 FINAL
La Salle 55
Louisiana Tech 53 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 60
Rhode Island 70 FINAL
Massachusetts 78
Richmond 55 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 49
Davidson 46 FINAL
Fordham 54
St Bonaventure 43 FINAL
Duquesne 51
George Mason 45 FINAL
(22) George Washington 80
Indiana 60 FINAL
(20) Rutgers 71
(12) Texas A&M 63 FINAL
LSU 80
Ole Miss 47 FINAL
(11) Miss State 55
Clemson 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 61
Maine 47 FINAL
New Hampshire 61
Vermont 48 FINAL
Albany 76
Quinnipiac 87 FINAL
Monmouth 48
Saint Peters 47 FINAL
Siena 64
(4) Notre Dame 67 FINAL
NC State 60
Wisconsin 62 FINAL
Penn State 56
Stony Brook 49 FINAL
Hartford 56
Northeastern 47 FINAL
William & Mary 62
St Johns 61 FINAL
Xavier 74
James Madison 74 FINAL
Delaware 71
Towson 45 FINAL
Drexel 50
Illinois State 50 FINAL
Bradley 60
Southern Ill 74 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 70
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Wichita State 66
Minnesota 76 FINAL
(17) Iowa 92
(15) North Carolina 80 FINAL
(16) Duke 81
Alabama 73 FINAL
Auburn 80
(9) Florida State 69 FINAL
Miami-Florida 55
Arkansas 41 FINAL
Missouri 57
Georgia 52 FINAL
Florida 45
Dayton 95 FINAL
Saint Louis 68
Drake 57 FINAL
Missouri State 86
Colorado 46 FINAL
(10) Arizona State 59
(19) Stanford 55 FINAL
Oregon 62
Marquette 82 FINAL
DePaul 99
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 60
Vanderbilt 49 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 79
(2) South Carolina 56 FINAL
(13) Kentucky 67
Utah 41 FINAL
Arizona 64
Ohio State 78 FINAL
Nebraska 60
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