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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Goalie drama before Wild's must-win Game 5 against Blackhawks

Posted by: Michael Russo under Stanley Cup, Wild pregame skate Updated: May 9, 2013 - 1:41 PM
There was some wacky and wild goalie drama at today’s pregame skate for tonight’s must-win Game 5 of the Western Conference quarters against the Chicago Blackhawks.
 
Josh Harding, who left Game 4 after the first period with a lower-body injury, had one cage. Niklas Backstrom and Darcy Kuemper shared the other.
 
That was a clear indication that Harding was starting. Next, Harding took shots from the D toward the tail end of the skate. That usually cinches who is starting.
 
But slowly but surely, it became clearer that Harding was laboring. As Harding took shots, head coach Mike Yeo and goalie Bob Mason were talking and watching Harding. Suddenly, they turned and began watching Backstrom at the other end of the United Center’s rink. He, too, looked to be having bigtime trouble pushing off.
 
Yeo and Mason turned back and watched Harding. Harding skated over, began chatting with them. Finally, Yeo skated over to Backstrom and had a long conversation with him.
 
The final decision? Harding will start tonight with Kuemper backing up.
 
Why Harding? “We don’t know how he feels, but you have to trust him, and he says that he is good to go and there was absolutely no doubt about it, so that’s what we were looking for,” Yeo said.
 
On the crazy goalie drama, Yeo said, smiling, “You don’t know what we were talking about. I think we might have been talking about what we were having for lunch today.”
 
Yeo then turned serious and said, “This is what we’ve been dealt, but we were able to figure it out and now we should push all that stuff behind us. Bottom line is we’ve got 20 guys going into the game. No excuses whatsoever on our part. You’re in the lineup, you’re there for a reason, and we’ve got a group that is more than capable of winning this hockey game tonight.”
 
Defenseman Ryan Suter has never seen anything like the Wild’s postseason goalie situation, saying, “It’s too bad you have to deal with that. There’s so many distractions already. For us, we know whoever’s in net, we have to play hard and play our best if we want to win this game tonight. That’s been our attitude all year. It’s just someone different in net. Obviously it’s not Backy, who’s been there all year. Whoever it is, we have to go out and defend well and play in the offensive zone.”
 
Zach Parise said, laughing, “Honestly I don’t know who’s playing tonight.”
 
The Blackhawks expect the Wild’s best game. Yeo said, “If we can win this game, obviously we’d still be behind, some of the pressure would shift. We have to have a good focus of how to make that happen.”
 
Yeo noted that the Wild has been in similar situations. “Game 3, we knew without a doubt we had to win that game, and we played our best game of the series. Game 48, we knew we had to win that hockey game and we were able to go out and perform. Hopefully we can draw upon that.”
 
Yeo said, “3-1 is daunting. Tonight’s game is not necessarily that daunting.”
 
The reason, he says, is because even though the Wild’s execution last game wasn’t great, the Wild easily could have won that game. The Wild outchanced the Hawks, outhit them and drew six power plays. “Bottom line we didn’t score and they did. But there are a lot of things that can be taken from the last two games.”
 
Yeo talked about how great the Hawks have been defensively and how deep they are, saying, “If you would have told us through four games that Jonathan Toews wouldn’t have a point, we probably would have signed up for that pretty quickly. But obviously we still trail 3-1.”
 
As for lines, Jason Pominville will skate with Kyle Brodziak and Pierre-Marc Bouchard – his line that was playing well prior to his getting hurt.
 
On the fourth line, Stephane Veilleux and Mike Rupp will be game-time decisions. One will play, one won’t, on a line with Torrey Mitchell and Cal Clutterbuck.
 
“They’re not going to lay over for us, by any means,” defenseman Brent Seabrook said. “Nobody wants to have their season over. We expect them to come hard and play a tough, tight game.”
 
Dave Bolland and Ray Emery are both out for the Blackhawks.
 
Just a real quick FYI, I’m going to be away from the team starting tomorrow for a little bit. I have a family emergency and need to leave town. We have plenty of capable folks to cover the Wild in my absence, and of course, I’ll do my best to keep one eye on the team. But I've got to leave unfortunately.

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Detroit 30 2nd Qtr 9:14
Washington 43
Atlanta 0 1st Qtr 11:59
Miami 0
Toronto 4 1st Qtr 9:51
New York 2
Memphis 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
Dallas
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Utah
San Antonio 8:00 PM
Phoenix
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Florida 5
Detroit 4 FINAL
Nashville 3
Carolina 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
New Jersey 2 FINAL
Columbus 0
Arizona 1 3rd Prd 9:39
Boston 4
Toronto 0 1st Prd 4:31
Montreal 2
NY Rangers 7:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 9:00 PM
Colorado
St. Louis 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Ottawa 9:00 PM
San Jose
Kennesaw St 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 94
Navy 57 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 47
Bucknell 71 FINAL
American Univ 69
NC State 63 FINAL
Boston College 79
East Carolina 71 FINAL
UCF 66
Georgia Tech 63 FINAL
Clemson 70
Lehigh 55 FINAL
Colgate 61
Louisville 81 FINAL
Florida State 59
Missouri 44 FINAL
Georgia 68
Army 64 FINAL
Lafayette 74
Michigan 56 FINAL
Maryland 66
Georgetown 70 FINAL
St Johns 81
Rhode Island 59 FINAL
La Salle 56
Western Carolina 67 FINAL
Citadel 54
Nebraska Omaha 87 FINAL
IUPUI 80
Maine 56 FINAL
New Hampshire 65
Samford 80 FINAL
Va Military 69
Presbyterian 53 FINAL
Winthrop 80
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Air Force 60
Vermont 73 FINAL
Albany 79
UMBC 69 FINAL
Binghamton 76
Indiana State 60 FINAL
Bradley 52
Butler 67 FINAL
DePaul 53
Illinois State 69 FINAL
Evansville 67
Wright State 46 FINAL
Ill-Chicago 61
Fla Gulf Coast 67 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Ole Miss 63 FINAL
LSU 73
North Carolina 73 FINAL
Miami-Florida 64
Wagner 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
TCU 60 FINAL
Oklahoma 67
Delaware 65 FINAL
Towson 60
Cincinnati 63 FINAL
Tulane 47
Dayton 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 55
Northern Iowa 60 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Drexel 80 FINAL
William & Mary 66
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Green Bay 83
Villanova 78 FINAL
Xavier 66
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Longwood 70
Sarah Lawrence 55 FINAL
NJIT 90
Middle Tennessee 95 FINAL
UAB 100
UNC-Asheville 95 FINAL
Liberty 77
Southern Utah 71 FINAL
North Dakota 65
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Chicago State 65
ULM 43 FINAL
Appalachian St 66
Bowling Green 62 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 57
Long Island 73 FINAL
Sacred Heart 84
West Virginia 66 FINAL
Baylor 78
Holy Cross 77 FINAL
Boston Univ 70
MD-Eastern Shore 69 FINAL
Delaware State 65
Wofford 62 FINAL
Furman 60
Montana State 73 FINAL
Idaho 80
Hofstra 73 FINAL
James Madison 82
Iowa State 69 FINAL
Kansas State 70
Arkansas 67 FINAL
Kentucky 84
Missouri State 51 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 65
Fordham 74 FINAL
Massachusetts 82
Nicholls 78 FINAL
McNeese State 83
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Mercer 69
Coppin State 88 FINAL
Morgan State 77
San Diego 78 FINAL
Portland 66
Gardner-Webb 62 FINAL
Radford 72
St Francis-PA 70 FINAL
Robert Morris 71
Duquesne 75 FINAL
St Bonaventure 92
Creighton 66 FINAL
Seton Hall 67
Oklahoma State 62 FINAL
Texas Tech 63
Alabama 66 FINAL
Vanderbilt 73
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
Virginia 69
Bethune-Cookman 49 FINAL
NC Central 72
St Francis-NY 51 FINAL
Bryant 61
Drake 57 FINAL
Southern Ill 63
High Point 93 FINAL
Char Southern 97
Central Conn St 66 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 73
Eastern Mich 72 FINAL
Western Mich 80
Texas 64 FINAL
Kansas 69
Chattanooga 61 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 58
SE Louisiana 69 2nd Half 0:06
Central Arkansas 73
South Dakota St 64 FINAL
South Dakota 80
Montana 77 FINAL
Eastern Wash 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 64
Old Dominion 70 FINAL
North Texas 57
Arkansas State 60 FINAL
Texas State 70
Texas Southern 31 2nd Half
Alabama State 33
Tennessee St 57 2nd Half 3:06
Belmont 81
Princeton 70 2nd Half 7:17
Brown 45
Dartmouth 51 2nd Half 1:55
Cornell 42
Tennessee 43 2nd Half 7:12
Florida 58
Jacksonville St 51 2nd Half 0:54
Morehead State 82
San Jose St 40 2nd Half 9:25
Nevada 46
Florida A&M 47 2nd Half 9:00
NC A&T 59
Iowa 57 2nd Half 7:41
Penn State 54
Loyola Marymount 39 2nd Half 7:11
Pepperdine 52
Miss State 50 2nd Half 7:54
South Carolina 64
Savannah State 50 2nd Half 11:40
SC State 35
Miss Valley St 23 2nd Half 14:40
Jackson State 57
Alcorn State 29 2nd Half 20:00
Southern U 29
Harvard 25 1st Half 5:35
Columbia 16
George Washington 26 1st Half 3:27
Davidson 25
Syracuse 21 1st Half 3:30
Duke 28
Tenn Tech 30 2nd Half
Eastern Ky 26
UNC-Wilmington 13 1st Half 6:49
Elon 24
Stony Brook 27 1st Half 5:00
Hartford 18
Northwestern 18 1st Half 3:55
Illinois 36
Western Ill 28 1st Half 4:17
IUPU-Ft Wayne 31
Buffalo 30 1st Half 4:24
Kent State 25
Incarnate Word 21 1st Half 8:04
Lamar 25
Cal State Fullerton 14 1st Half 3:55
Long Beach State 30
TX-San Antonio 18 1st Half 4:06
Louisiana Tech 27
Fla Atlantic 33 1st Half 2:57
Marshall 29
Richmond 29 1st Half 1:33
Saint Josephs 23
George Mason 39 1st Half 2:08
Saint Louis 24
Austin Peay 24 1st Half 1:36
SE Missouri St 38
Ball State 23 1st Half 3:22
Toledo 27
Penn 28 1st Half 0:18
Yale 25
Milwaukee 37 1st Half 5:20
Youngstown St 22
Stetson 29 1st Half 3:57
North Florida 33
USC Upstate 27 1st Half 2:08
Northern Ky 30
Grand Canyon 22 1st Half 4:57
UMKC 21
Abilene Christian 6 1st Half 15:29
New Orleans 9
Murray State 17 1st Half 12:00
UT Martin 13
Hampton 11 1st Half 15:30
Howard 8
Prairie View 12 1st Half 14:46
Alabama A&M 7
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
Tulsa 7:00 PM
Memphis
Wyoming 7:00 PM
UNLV
Central Mich 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Denver 7:00 PM
Oral Roberts
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Rice
Boise State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
St Marys-CA 7:00 PM
Santa Clara
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
Southern Miss
Sam Houston St 7:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
New Mexico St 0 Postponed
TX-Pan American 0
FIU 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Stephen F Austin 7:00 PM
Houston Baptist
Ga Southern 7:15 PM
Louisiana
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Texas-Arlington
Grambling St 7:30 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Auburn 7:30 PM
Texas A&M
Arizona 8:00 PM
Utah
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
UC Davis 0 1st Half
Cal Poly 0
New Mexico 9:00 PM
Fresno State
BYU 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Pacific 9:00 PM
San Francisco
Idaho State 9:00 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 9:05 PM
Portland State
UC Riverside 9:30 PM
CS-Northridge
Washington 9:30 PM
USC
CS-Bakersfield 9:30 PM
Seattle
UC Irvine 10:59 PM
UC Santa Barbara
Michigan 60 FINAL
Illinois 72
Lipscomb 57 FINAL
Kennesaw St 75
North Florida 45 FINAL
Stetson 77
Samford 65 FINAL
Mercer 70
Liberty 64 FINAL
Campbell 57
North Texas 48 FINAL
Old Dominion 70
St Francis-NY 62 FINAL
Bryant 52
St Francis-PA 58 FINAL
Robert Morris 73
Long Island 71 FINAL
Sacred Heart 78
Sam Houston St 52 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 60
Kent State 59 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 66
ULM 61 FINAL
Appalachian St 80
Boston U 62 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Nicholls 73 FINAL
McNeese State 68
Akron 80 FINAL
Buffalo 87
Ball State 50 FINAL
Western Mich 51
MD-Eastern Shore 68 FINAL
Delaware State 61
Northern Ill 52 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 60
Bowling Green 47 FINAL
Ohio U 67
Central Michigan 53 FINAL
Toledo 62
Coppin State 55 FINAL
Morgan State 73
Bethune-Cookman 50 FINAL
NC Central 33
Central Conn St 77 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 56
Memphis 24 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 87
Georgia Tech 67 FINAL
Wake Forest 60
East Carolina 69 FINAL
Temple 79
Fairfield 72 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Niagara 53 FINAL
Iona 81
Marist 65 FINAL
Rider 56
Michigan State 61 FINAL
Purdue 56
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
USC Upstate 60
East Tenn St 42 FINAL
(18) Chattanooga 64
Furman 70 FINAL
Wofford 53
Longwood 58 FINAL
Charleston Southern 51
UNC-Asheville 87 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 53
Winthrop 60 FINAL
Presbyterian 53
Western Ill 75 FINAL
South Dakota 78
Detroit 78 FINAL
Valparaiso 57
Cleveland State 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 76
Georgia State 75 FINAL
Troy 88
Lafayette 41 FINAL
Army 57
Arkansas State 74 FINAL
Texas State 83
IUPUI 53 FINAL
South Dakota St 82
Tennessee St 70 FINAL
Belmont 53
Eastern Illinois 55 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Jacksonville St 83 FINAL
Morehead St 78
Kansas State 47 FINAL
TCU 67
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
SMU 46
SE Louisiana 57 FINAL
Central Arkansas 73
Denver 40 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 53
Tulane 52 FINAL
Tulsa 54
IUPU-Ft Wayne 56 FINAL
Oral Roberts 84
Air Force 50 FINAL
Utah State 84
San Diego State 58 FINAL
Boise State 62
Fresno State 60 FINAL
New Mexico 63
Florida A&M 42 FINAL
NC A&T 78
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
BYU 66
South Florida 99 FINAL
UCF 71
UCLA 61 FINAL
Washington 74
(3) Baylor 71 FINAL
Iowa State 76
Tenn Tech 84 FINAL
Eastern Kentucky 71
UMKC 42 FINAL
Grand Canyon 56
Seattle 61 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 73
Texas Southern 64 FINAL
Alabama State 52
Santa Clara 71 FINAL
St Marys-CA 74
UNLV 68 FINAL
Wyoming 99
Savannah State 55 FINAL
SC State 52
Alcorn State 3:00 PM
Southern U
Miss Valley St 54 FINAL
Jackson State 58
Bucknell 55 FINAL
American Univ 65
Radford 63 FINAL
High Point 83
Eastern Washington 59 FINAL
Montana 69
Idaho 62 FINAL
Montana State 71
Weber State 56 FINAL
Idaho State 63
Green Bay 73 FINAL
Youngstown St 27
Oakland 54 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 64
Austin Peay 72 FINAL
SE Missouri St 67
Wagner 65 FINAL
Mount St Marys 68
Portland 72 FINAL
San Diego 80
Nevada 72 FINAL
San Jose St 81
Stephen F Austin 69 FINAL
Houston Baptist 57
Incarnate Word 64 FINAL
Lamar 81
Abilene Christian 50 FINAL
New Orleans 71
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 74
San Francisco 91 FINAL
Pacific 79
Prairie View 81 FINAL
Alabama A&M 71
Hampton 106 FINAL
Howard 57
Chicago State 53 FINAL
Utah Valley U 68
Cal Poly 75 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 84
UC Santa Barbara 57 FINAL
UC Davis 52
Marshall 73 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 83
Portland State 77 FINAL
Sacramento St 123
Western Ky 88 FINAL
FIU 47
UAB 55 2nd Half 1:00
Middle Tennessee 53
Georgia Southern 31 2nd Half 3:56
Louisiana 59
Grambling 39 2nd Half
Ark-Pine Bluff 34
Ark-Little Rock 48 2nd Half 0:44
TX-Arlington 38
Cornell 31 2nd Half
Dartmouth 50
Columbia 63 2nd Half
Harvard 62
Brown 67 2nd Half 1:30
(14) Princeton 77
USC 48 2nd Half 7:43
Washington St 0
(24) California 53 2nd Half 2:52
(7) Oregon State 67
Yale 8 1st Half 9:00
Penn 18
Murray State 74 FINAL
UT Martin 87
Loyola-Maryland 18 1st Half 2:00
Navy 22
Jacksonville 13 1st Half 6:30
(21) Fla Gulf Coast 20
Long Beach St 18 1st Half 6:56
Cal State Fullerton 19
Rice 15 1st Half 7:30
Charlotte 25
Colgate 9 1st Half 15:47
Lehigh 3
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Kansas 7:00 PM
Oklahoma
Oklahoma St 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northern Colorado 9:00 PM
Northern Ariz
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