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.

It was a nailbiter, but the Wild makes the playoffs for the first time in five years

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: April 27, 2013 - 11:21 PM
Exhale. That was never, ever, ever … in doubt.
 
Money in the bank, as I like to say. As I promised on Twitter 30 or so minutes before the game, Red Wings, Wild and Blue Jackets would all win and finish 7, 8, 9.
 
OK, maybe after the 10th Wild icing of the third period I started to get a shade concerned, but in a true must-win, the Wild hung on for absolutely dear life and pulled out a 3-1 victory tonight here at the Pepsi Center over Colorado to advance to the National Hockey League playoffs of all things for the first time in five years.
 
Minnesota’s reward? The President’s Trophy-winning Chicago Blackhawks.
 
But hey, we can all recast how torturous this April was for the Wild, but the good news is the Wild 1) got in and 2) when the series starts, the calendar could conceivably turn to May. April’s gone!
 
The Wild had to get in. There is almost no doubt there would have been drastic, painful changes if the Wild completely the April swoon. Mike Yeo almost certainly would have been handed his pink slip, maybe as soon as getting off the plane in Minnesota. More on that in the main story.
 
But now the Wild moves on and begins the necessary next step of an organization that’s trying to grow and frankly hopes to one day model itself after a franchise like Chicago.
 
“But let’s make sure that we’re clear, we’re not done,” Yeo said. “We’re just not going to sit here on Cloud Nine and say this was a huge accomplishment.”
 
As of now, it’s uncertain when the first round will begin. Word should come some time Sunday night after the Ottawa at Boston makeup game. The Bulls are at home Thursday at the United Center, so the series may go Wednesday-Friday. However, TV rules in this instance, so once the league sees what NBC Sports Network wants, there is a chance the series could even go Tuesday-Friday if the network wants somebody else Wednesday.
 
But it is real unclear right now.
 
You’ve got to hand it to the Blue Jackets, who just played so well the last month to put themselves in this position. They just won five of six on the biggest road trip in franchise history. Then tonight, they rally on Nashville to win 3-1 and put the pressure squarely on Minnesota.
 
Thousands of fans reportedly stayed at Nationwide Arena and watched the giant bigscreen that showed the third period of the Wild-Avs game. They rooted for Colorado, but the Wild broke their hearts.
 
The Wild and Jackets – expansion siblings – tied with 55 points, but the Wild had three more non-shootout wins than them. Coincidentally, the big proponent for the rule change tiebreaker? Former GM Scott Howson. But either way, Wild would have had the previous tiebreaker, too – most wins.
 
Tonight, please read the new main and the new gamer/notebook once it merges onto www.startribune.com/wild for all the quotes and scene stuff, but Niklas Backstrom had just a huge bounceback game after being chased from the nets against Edmonton after giving up three goals on five shots.
 
The Avs pressed hard in the third. The Wild was get the puck out of the zone mode. But Backstrom stopped all 15 shots he saw and stopped 29 of 30 shots in the game.
 
Zach Parise scored, Pierre-Marc Bouchard iced it with an empty netter and Devin Setoguchi’s first goal in 15 games on a second-period power play lifted the Wild into the postseason.
 
Now, my annual offseason diet is delayed indefinitely, which is good news for us all, because I don’t want to go on vacation just yet. Lots of coverage on the horizon in the Star Tribune, I promise.
 
There is no access to the Wild on Sunday, so I will write for Monday’s paper on the Blackhawks and reaction in the Wild room about playing such a juggernaut.
 
A lot of happy Wild players in that room postgame. More than half the room, like Setoguchi – a solid playoff performer who calls the next step “a different animal” – have postseason experience. And then there are newbies like Kyle Brodziak.
 
“It’s pretty awesome,” he said. “A lot of guys in here have worked really hard to get to this point. It feels good to be able to take the next challenge.”
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Buffalo 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 103 FINAL
Miami 95
Indiana 110 FINAL
Brooklyn 85
New Orleans 100 FINAL
Chicago 107
Atlanta 90 FINAL
Milwaukee 85
Philadelphia 71 FINAL
Utah 88
New York 129 FINAL
Sacramento 135
Minnesota 97 FINAL
Golden State 110
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 4 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Nashville 4
Anaheim 1 FINAL(SO)
Arizona 2
Chicago 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Edmonton 1 FINAL
Calgary 4
San Jose 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 3
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
UAB 58 FINAL
North Carolina 89
IUPUI 55 FINAL
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 46 FINAL
Tennessee 67
Kennesaw St 45 FINAL
Illinois 93
Colorado State 58 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
Portland 61 FINAL
San Diego 58
Wayland Baptist 63 FINAL
Utah State 75
Bristol University 59 FINAL
Weber State 109
Sacramento St 74 FINAL
Utah Valley U 49
Southern Utah 45 FINAL
UNLV 79
SD Christian 50 FINAL
San Diego St 72
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
Tennessee
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Florida
SMU 45 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 96
UCF 64 FINAL
Houston 50
BYU 62 FINAL
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 FINAL
Portland 65
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: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT