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.

Wild gets big win in Columbus; Dany Heatley to undergo shoulder surgery

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage, Wild news Updated: April 7, 2013 - 9:21 PM

 

There’s really no way to portray how big this one 3-0 victory in Columbus was tonight.
 
The Wild had lost three in a row and four of five. It had sunk to 7th in the West with red-hot Phoenix surging from outside the top-8 and Detroit right on its tail. It’s about to head home for a three-game homestand in front of what’s bound to be a restless, nervous home crowd anyway, a crowd that felt compelled to boo this team profusely last Monday despite having won eight of its previous nine. Can you imagine what it would have been like if it had lost tonight?
 
So the Wild needed to stop the bleeding in Columbus and lower the temperature a bit before Tuesday’s game against Chicago.
 
Mission accomplished as it played a strong all-around game, got great special teams (two power-play goals, four spotless penalty kills), got a goal and assist from Jason Pominville in his second game, a winning goal from Ryan Suter, a first career power-play goal by Charlie Coyle, solid effort from scores of players and a 24-save shutout response from Niklas Backstrom.
 
It’s now got a 6-point cushion on Phoenix and moved back to 6th in the West.
 
Evening from Nationwide Arena, where the Wild snapped the Blue Jackets’ 12-game home point streak tonight.
 
The Wild will not practice Monday as one of its four mandatory days off per month in the new CBA. I will host a live chat on startribune.com at 2 p.m.
 
As I began to indicate the past few days, I finally got it confirmed tonight that Heatley will undergo shoulder surgery Tuesday at the Cleveland Clinic on Tuesday. That’s why the itinerary changed and he flew here to Ohio.
 
It’s a scope to repair a dislocated left shoulder suffered in San Jose during that altercation with former teammate Marc-Edouard Vlasic on Wednesday. Mike Yeo says this doesn’t necessarily mean Heatley will miss the remainder of the regular season, but you know it’ll be pretty darn close. The reason he and the team has elected for surgery is because this should quicken his return rather than just letting it heal naturally.
 
The good news is now the trade for Pominville is even bigger. Pominville took Coyle spot as the first-line right wing and tonight, Yeo might have discovered Heatley’s replacement with Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak.
 
Not only did Coyle score and play outstandingly in all three zones, Clutterbuck and Brodziak were as good as they’ve been in a long time. They were hard to play against for Marian Gaborik’s line, they were pains in the rear with good sticks in the neutral zone and they got the puck in often on the forecheck. All three were also strong on the penalty kill. Clutterbuck caused turnovers and foiled chances all night with back pressure and a good stick.
 
“We’re losing a huge piece there [with Heatley], so you need guys to step up,” Yeo said. “What Heater brings is a guy who is puck strong and a guy who can score goals. And I think we saw a lot of those qualities in Charlie Coyle tonight.”
 
The hope is Matt Cullen is close. He missed the road trip with a lower body injury.
 
As a team, Clutterbuck, who had a money quote in the gamer you should check out, said, “We just needed to get back to the certain way we were playing, and the good thing is we know exactly what that is and we know that it works.”
 
Yeo was delighted with Backstrom’s response after being yanked in L.A. He recorded his 28th career shutout and now leads the league with 20 wins in 31 starts. He had 19 in 45 starts last year.
 
As a team, Yeo said, “What you saw tonight is what our game is supposed to look like.”
 
He did say, “We’re not going to sit here and say this road trip was a huge success, but we found a way to in a very important game for us.”
 
On the back end, he scratched Brett Clark and veteran Tom Gilbert: “I thought the entire defensive group was really strong. One of our better ones execution wise. Taking hits to make plays.”
 
Clayton Stoner, so maligned lately, had a real solid game. Yeo: “He’s had a couple tough plays with pucks for sure. The base of his game, he’s going to be a physical guy, he’s going to be hard to play against down low, he’s not a fun guy to play against, I guarantee you that because positionally he does a good job. He did a very good job with the puck tonight, which is important.”
 
Tonight, Yeo said, “Scorers were scoring, checkers were checking.”
 
Mikael Granlund had one of his best games of his season. First period, Yeo said he was somewhat average, but he was great in all three zones in the second and third, set up a tremendous Coyle goal and was physical and strong on the wall.
 
Said Yeo: “I thought he elevated his game in the second and third. That’s really important for us. It’s a matter of confidence for the kid. Once he really starts to figure out what he can do and what he’s capable of, it’s going to be fun to watch.”
 
Pominville had a solid game. Thirty minutes before warmups, his wife and two kids surprised him by driving in from Buffalo. The Wild surprised the family by outfitting them fully with Wild gear.
 
Coyle was real good. Suter real good. Torrey Mitchell had a great game. The fourth line really set a strong tone in the first, but Backstrom made a series of clutch saves that calmed the tide too.
 
That’s it for me. Early flight. Ten games left, amazingly enough. Again, no practice Monday but I will be hosting the live chat on startribune.com at 2 p.m. Please join in.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Detroit 69 FINAL
Philadelphia 89
Portland 94 FINAL
Cleveland 99
Sacramento 102 FINAL
Toronto 119
Boston 98 FINAL
Minnesota 110
Dallas 94 FINAL
Houston 99
Denver 93 FINAL
New Orleans 85
Brooklyn 102 FINAL
Atlanta 113
Oklahoma City 92 FINAL
New York 100
Charlotte 86 FINAL
San Antonio 95
LA Clippers 94 FINAL
Utah 89
Washington 98 FINAL
Phoenix 106
Toronto 1 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Pittsburgh 0 FINAL
Washington 4
Chicago 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Temple 86 FINAL
UCF 62
Winthrop 75 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 68
Lafayette 59 FINAL
Colgate 54
Northeastern 60 FINAL
Drexel 65
Wake Forest 76 FINAL
Florida State 82
Rhode Island 64 FINAL
Fordham 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
James Madison 88
South Carolina 58 FINAL
LSU 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Maine 58
Seton Hall 80 FINAL
Marquette 70
Binghamton 68 FINAL
UMBC 56
American Univ 54 FINAL
Navy 64
Elon 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 82
Wright State 76 FINAL
Oakland 84
Minnesota 58 FINAL
Penn State 63
Duquesne 55 FINAL
Richmond 86
SMU 63 FINAL
South Florida 52
Hartford 66 FINAL
Stony Brook 72
Albany 47 FINAL
Vermont 44
Hofstra 79 FINAL
William & Mary 100
UNC-Asheville 74 FINAL
Longwood 64
Radford 84 FINAL
Char Southern 77
Holy Cross 0 Postponed
Loyola-Maryland 0
Duke 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 77
Texas Tech 36 FINAL
Oklahoma 81
Oregon State 55 FINAL
Arizona State 73
Morehead State 82 FINAL
Austin Peay 69
Drake 69 FINAL
Bradley 57
Lehigh 62 FINAL
Bucknell 68
Rice 48 FINAL
Houston 59
Missouri State 57 FINAL
Illinois State 67
Loyola-Chicago 47 FINAL
Wichita State 58
Nebraska Omaha 64 FINAL
South Dakota St 86
Northern Iowa 59 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
Louisville 81 FINAL
Boston College 72
St Johns 74 FINAL
Creighton 77
East Carolina 58 FINAL
Memphis 70
Georgia Tech 70 FINAL
Miami-Florida 50
Miss State 73 FINAL
Ole Miss 79
Clemson 68 FINAL
NC State 57
Indiana 67 FINAL
Purdue 83
Kansas 64 FINAL
TCU 61
Oregon 56 FINAL
Arizona 90
Air Force 66 FINAL
San Jose St 52
Stanford 84 FINAL
Washington 74
Rider 56 FINAL
Siena 49
Dayton 76 FINAL
Richmond 62
Eastern Kentucky 53 FINAL
Jacksonville St 73
Saint Josephs 0 Postponed
Saint Louis 0
UMBC 71 FINAL
Binghamton 55
Akron 60 FINAL
Ohio U 72
Ball State 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 55
Memphis 56 FINAL
Cincinnati 44
East Carolina 32 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 87
Murray State 59 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 75
Kent State 63 FINAL
Central Michigan 65
UT Martin 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 58
Eastern Michigan 56 FINAL
Western Mich 83
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Lehigh 76
Indiana 57 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Colgate 56 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Fordham 66 FINAL
Davidson 45
Duquesne 76 FINAL
St Bonaventure 64
George Mason 66 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 70
Detroit 59 FINAL
Youngstown St 58
Army 0 Postponed
Boston U 0
Loyola-Maryland 0 Postponed
Holy Cross 0
SMU 58 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Oklahoma St 54 FINAL
Kansas State 52
West Virginia 57 FINAL
Texas Tech 73
Denver 56 FINAL
South Dakota 82
Northwestern St 46 FINAL
Central Arkansas 63
Austin Peay 67 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 87
Kansas 61 FINAL
Iowa State 56
Bowling Green 50 FINAL
Northern Ill 67
Penn State 64 FINAL
Minnesota 75
San Jose St 80 FINAL
Air Force 83
Boise State 82 FINAL
Colorado State 83
Utah State 51 FINAL
Wyoming 86
San Diego State 50 FINAL
Fresno State 57
Nevada 52 FINAL
UNLV 75
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What chance does the Wild have of making the playoffs?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT