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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Wild wins, it's in: Pominville out, Rupp returns tonight vs. Edmonton

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: April 26, 2013 - 12:18 PM
Oh, the drama.
 
The Columbus Blue Jackets won last night, meaning the Wild now controls its own destiny.
 
Two games left. One win and in.
 
The Wild can take care of business tonight against the Edmonton Oilers, who have won once in the past 10 games, scoring 13 goals in that stretch, and four of those came in the lone win at Colorado. The Wild is 19-1 in its past 20 at home vs. the Oilers. Niklas Backstrom is 17-0 at home vs. the Oilers with a 1.34 goals against average and .948 save percentage; 25-3-1 all-time vs. them.
 
“Nobody really expected us to get any help,” center Kyle Brodziak said. “The teams that are fighting for the playoffs spots, you’ve got to expect them to be winning games. … We knew we would have to do the same tonight. We set the bar of how we need to play to be successful. We beat the Stanley Cup champs [Tuesday] playing a certain way and we’ve got to expect to have to play like that to be able to beat Edmonton tonight.”
 
The Wild needs to win tonight. It’s the regular-season home finale, so you want to do it in front of the sold-out home crowd. Plus, you also want to try to win the last two to ensure that you avoid President’s Trophy-winning Chicago. You do not want to go into Colorado tomorrow having to win. That game – maybe Milan Hejduk’s last in the NHL – will be like the Final to the Avs, kind of like a few years ago when the Wild knocked off Dallas to eliminate the Stars and put the Blackhawks in.
 
A few days later, a Bud Light truck pulled up to former Wild forward Andrew Brunette’s Woodbury home with a thank-you gift from Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.
 
Again, the simplest scenarios are this:
 
--Wild goes 2-0 and San Jose loses in regulation tomorrow at Los Angeles, and the Wild finishes sixth and plays Vancouver.
--Wild goes 2-0 and San Jose gets a point, the Wild finishes seventh and plays Anaheim
--Wild goes 1-1 (regulation, overtime or shootout win) and Detroit loses at Dallas Saturday in regulation, overtime or shootout), the Wild finishes seventh because of tiebreaker.
--Wild goes 1-1 and Detroit beats Dallas, the Wild finishes eighth.
--Wild goes 0-2 and Columbus loses in regulation to Nashville Saturday, the Wild finishes eighth.
--Wild goes 0-2 and Columbus gets a point Saturday, Wild is eliminated.
I’m not going to do the 1-0-1 scenarios right now.
First things first, win tonight, the Wild’s in and we’ll figure out the rest.
 
Either way, if the Wild wins tonight, we won’t know the Wild’s opponent until we see what the Wild does at Colorado tonight AND we see the outcomes of the San Jose-Los Angeles; Detroit-Dallas; Colorado-Nashville games.
 
“This is exciting. What more do you need to say?” coach Mike Yeo said. “We have to be ready to come and play a great game. We’ve got a chance to reach the goal of making the playoffs and to do it in front of our home crowd, it should be an exciting night.”
 
Jason Pominville will miss tonight’s game with what is obviously a head injury. The Wild’s still not saying concussion though and as I tweeted yesterday, Pominville says he’s just OK and the Wild will obviously play it safe.
 
Mike Rupp has declared himself ready to return from a knee injury tonight. That means Mike Rupp insurance Carson McMillan won’t play.
 
Torrey Mitchell will move up from the fourth line and take Pominville’s spot on the Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Brodziak line.
 
“I still have to play the same hard, structured type of game,” Brodziak said. “You lose a guy as important as [Pominville] is to our team, it’s tough to overcome. At the same time, a guy like Mitchell is an unbelievable player too. He’s a guy who hasn’t had all the greatest opportunity to show that this year, but everybody knows what he’s capable of.”
 
Brodziak called Mitchell, the former San Jose Sharks forward, a “fast, relentless forechecker, a very smart hockey player who knows where he’s got to be all over the ice.”
 
Yeo said on that line, Mitchell also knows his role is to go north with pucks and get to the net.
 
By the way, for the first time since Jacques Lemaire won the Jack Adams in 2003, the Wild has a chance to have guys go after multiple awards. The Wild is campaigning hard for Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin to win the Norris and Calder, respectively, and honestly, Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu should get some Selke votes (Wes Walz was a finalist once) and guys like Matt Cullen and Jared Spurgeon should get tabs for the Lady Byng.
 
On Suter and Brodin, Yeo said, “To me, they’re tap-ins. It’s automatic, and I could add a couple other guys for lists for awards.”
 
Yeo then caught himself (my fault, I asked the question): “I’d prefer once the season is over to talk about this because right now the only award that anybody wants is the team one. We have an opportunity to get ourselves into the playoffs tonight and again, it’s an exciting day.”
 
Talk to you tonight. I’ll be on Dan Barreiro’s show on KFAN at 4:35 p.m. and on NHL Network live from the arena cam at 5:40 p.m.

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Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 FINAL
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
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Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
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