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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Toronto - LP: D. Hutchison 2 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Tanaka 5
Washington - WP: S. Strasburg 2 FINAL
Miami - LP: N. Eovaldi 1
NY Mets - WP: J. deGrom 10 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: E. Santana 2
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 3 FINAL
Baltimore - LP: M. Gonzalez 2
Milwaukee - LP: W. Peralta 0 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: V. Worley 1
Chicago WSox - WP: J. Danks 10 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: N. Karns 5
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: A. Swarzak 2
Detroit - LP: R. Porcello 2 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 5
Seattle - LP: H. Iwakuma 3 FINAL
Houston - WP: C. McHugh 8
Los Angeles - WP: C. Perez 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 5
Texas - WP: S. Tolleson 2 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Street 1
Philadelphia - LP: M. Gonzalez 6 FINAL
Oakland - WP: S. Doolittle 8
San Francisco - LP: R. Vogelsong 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: I. Kennedy 8
Arizona - LP: W. Miley 3 FINAL
Colorado - WP: C. Bergman 8
Cincinnati - WP: A. Simon 7 FINAL
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 2
San Diego 22 FINAL
Buffalo 10
Dallas 34 FINAL
St. Louis 31
Washington 34 FINAL
Philadelphia 37
Houston 17 FINAL
NY Giants 30
Minnesota 9 FINAL
New Orleans 20
Tennessee 7 FINAL
Cincinnati 33
Baltimore 23 FINAL
Cleveland 21
Green Bay 7 FINAL
Detroit 19
Indianapolis 44 FINAL
Jacksonville 17
Oakland 9 FINAL
New England 16
San Francisco 14 FINAL
Arizona 23
Denver 20 FINAL
Seattle 26
Kansas City 34 FINAL
Miami 15
Pittsburgh 37 FINAL
Carolina 19
Chicago 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Columbus 4 FINAL
Carolina 3
Buffalo 0 FINAL
Washington 1
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Columbus 4
Calgary 1 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Edmonton 0 FINAL
Calgary 1
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(12) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(9) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
(23) East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(20) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
SMU 6
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
FIU 3
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
(14) Miss State 34 FINAL
(17) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(13) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
UNLV 14 FINAL
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Chivas USA 0 FINAL
Toronto FC 3
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 15 FINAL
Montreal 31
Ottawa 32 FINAL
Saskatchewan 35
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