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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Matt Hackett getting the nod tonight for Wild

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 29, 2013 - 12:20 PM


The Wild looks to win its eighth consecutive game tonight when it takes the ice at Dallas' American Airlines Center, the site of its sixth consecutive victory only four nights ago.

In that win, the Wild scored a season-high seven goals and registered a season-high 42 shots as it three times rallied from a goal down and one time recovered from surrendering the tying goal. That win was the Wild's first in Dallas since March 21, 2003.

The Wild returned home and beat Phoenix in overtime on Wednesday. The Stars? They haven't played since, bizarrely enough.

Remember when at one point this year, the Wild scored one regulation goal in six consecutive games? The Wild has scored four or more now in eight of the past 14 games and have climbed from 30th in goals per game (2.06) in the NHL on Feb. 26 to 14th today (2.72).

Mikko Koivu has six goals and 16 points in the past 12 games and 2-point games in his past three (plus-10 his past 10). Ryan Suter has 23 points in the past 22 games (plus-9 last 7 games, coming off a game where he scored the tying goal in the last minute and had six shots in 29:54 of ice time). He is also one assist and one point from tying injured Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang for first in those categories among NHL blue-liners.


Same forwards, obviously. Defense, same lineup. Coach Mike Yeo said he knows there was a lot of criticism of Justin Falk and Tom Gilbert after the Phoenix game, and he knows they've played better, but he says he only recorded two scoring chances against after reviewing the film (of course, they each took a penalty, too).

It sounds very likely that Brett Clark will make his Wild debut tomorrow against the Kings.

To keep the hot streak alive, the Wild will need to do so with young goalie Matt Hackett in net tonight. That is unconfirmed at the moment but what I am hearing.

Hackett, 23, a third-round pick in 2009, will make his season debut. He went 3-6 in 12 games last year with a 2.37 goals against average and .922 save percentage. He won his first game in relief in San Jose and won his first start in L.A.

He has only played one game in the past 3-plus weeks, but Yeo said the Wild is anxious to take a look at home tonight. Obviously, tough game for Hackett, especially with the nerves of backstopping a team he knows is on a roll.

Niklas Backstrom, who started 12 in a row and 16 of the past 17 games, remained in the Twin Cities to rest up for Saturday's home game against the Los Angeles Kings, who is waiting there for Minnesota to return after tonight's game. I assume he doesn't get his $100 a day per diem.

With both Darcy Kuemper and Hackett up now, Aeros GM Jim Mill signed ECHL Bakersfield goalie Brian Stewart to a professional tryout. That's eight Houston goalies this year now. Stewart will likely be dismissed tomorrow though as the Wild will assuredly reassign Kuemper or Hackett and recall a forward again. Since Hackett is starting today, it may be Kuemper.

The Wild once again will be looking to retake the top spot in the Northwest Division.The Wild has Vancouver Canucks have been flip-flopping spots daily for more than a week. The Canucks have won six in a row, are in the midst of the most cupcake schedule imaginable (10 straight games against teams outside the top-8) and have played two more games than Minnesota.

But this is why the Wild must keep winning.

By the way, remember that blog Q and A that was supposed to run in my Sunday Insider? I decided to write about Jarome Iginla on Sunday, so the Q and A is now scheduled to run in Monday's newspaper. The Wild has Sunday off, so Monday's a good day for that to run.



St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas 4 Bottom 2nd Inning
Seattle 0
Washington - D. Fister 6:05 PM
Philadelphia - K. Kendrick
Tampa Bay - D. Smyly 6:05 PM
Baltimore - K. Gausman
Boston - J. Kelly 6:07 PM
Toronto - M. Stroman
NY Yankees - S. Greene 6:08 PM
Detroit - D. Price
Atlanta - J. Teheran 6:10 PM
NY Mets - Z. Wheeler
Chicago Cubs - J. Turner 6:10 PM
Cincinnati - M. Latos
Cleveland - C. Kluber 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - H. Noesi
Minnesota - P. Hughes 7:10 PM
Kansas City - L. Hendriks
Oakland - D. Pomeranz 7:10 PM
Houston - B. Peacock
Milwaukee - Y. Gallardo 8:10 PM
San Diego - O. Despaigne
Los Angeles - C. Kershaw 8:40 PM
Arizona - W. Miley
Miami - H. Alvarez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
Colorado - F. Morales 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question