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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Another Wild season comes to an end; Backstrom had sports hernia

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: May 10, 2013 - 12:57 AM
Painful end to the Wild’s season tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks dispatched the Wild in five games and nine days from its first-round series with a 5-1 win.
 
When it comes down to it, the Wild simply didn’t convert on its chances. Seven goals in five games as the Blackhawks advanced past the first round since beating Philadelphia in the Stanley Cup Finals three years ago. The power play went 0 for 17. Mikko Koivu didn’t have a point and was minus-6. Zach Parise scored one goal and was minus-7.
 
Please read the “gamer” for many of the details, but one piece of news, Niklas Backstrom admitted to me after the game that he has a sports hernia. That will require surgery. One has to wonder if he has played his last game with Minnesota.
 
The Wild used six defensemen (Gilbert, Scandella, Spurgeon, Brodin, Falk, Stoner) that never played in the playoffs before and a goalie in Josh Harding that never started in the playoffs before. That’s pretty difficult against a team like Chicago.
 
That’s why the Wild’s end-of-the-year trip was so painful.
 
Here are some quotes:
 
Matt Cullen: “It’s disappointing. It’s still very fresh. It’s extremely, extremely disappointing.”
 
On his future (last year of his contract): “You just don’t know in this game. For sure, I know that could have been my last game as a wild player. There’s lot of things that can happen. Never take it for granted. It’s been a lot of fun, but we’ll see what happens.”
 
On the team: “There’s a lot of good things in place. Obviously getting Zach and Suts has made a huge difference. The culture has started to change and expectations are rising, but we still have a ways to go.”
 
Zach Parise: “Just the lack of finish killed us. That’s the bottom line. You have to look at yourself first. You look back at some of the opportunities throughout the series that I had and didn’t put them in. That’s the frustrating part. That’s going to haunt you the whole summer.”
 
On the potential that Yeo could be in trouble: “That’s out of our control. Everyone’s got to look at themselves. You look at what you can do differently and why things happen. But that’s out of our control. There’s always changes. You don’t know. That’s the way this thing works.”
 
Mike Yeo
 
On the series: “Can’t seem to buy that first goal.”
 
On the Koivu missed chance in the first: “Last thing I want to do is sit up here and talk about puck luck or bounces. … I feel bad for Mikko. He did a lot of the right things … and just didn’t get rewarded.”
 
On the lack of finishers: “We’ll never stop trying to improve our team from a personnel standpoint. You always try to address your weaknesses. But we did improve in that area. We have to get better, there’s no question. … I hate to say it, sometimes it goes that way. Generate those chances and get those same people getting those chances, I like those odds in the long run.”
 
On not juggling lines in the series: “This was an important experience for me too. If anyone knows me, I’ll be the first one to look back and say, ‘I wish I could have done this and that.’”
 
On his job security: “I don’t know. I can’t answer that. If you want to look at it objectively, statistically, … properly, there’s been a lot of improvement in our organization and our team and I feel that we’re going in the right direction.”
 
Now big questions have to addressed this offseason, and … I will address that in Saturday’s paper.
 
One, obviously has to do with Yeo. GM Chuck Fletcher is safe, I believe. If Yeo isn’t safe, it would come from the GM, not the owner. And with Lindy Ruff and maybe even Dave Tippett dangling, this will be a lasting topic unless Fletcher publicly puts it to bed.
 
But Fletcher will have to evaluate everything, and that includes the job he is doing.
 
I still think the Wild’s future is bright, but the Wild isn’t big enough up front, isn’t fast enough and doesn’t have enough finishers. The blue line is an issue. It nThe Wild will have to find a way to accomplish this. If you don’t get to pick first or second overall or third overall or whatever, like Chicago did with Kane and Toews, and Pittsburgh did with Crosby and Malkin, it’s hard to replicate that route.
 
But bottom line: The Wild outchanced Chicago for large portions of this series. But as has been the trend all year with the team, it has to work excruciatingly hard to finish, while other teams seemingly don’t.
 
That’s a problem that must be addressed. I will get more into this in Saturday’s paper after I get a good night’s sleep and can put together a proper evaluation. I'll also probably re-enter this blog in the morning and freshen some things up and add some stuff.
 
But I have a very early flight. As I mentioned this morning though, I need to step away from the beat for the large part for the next little bit…I am heading out of town for a family emergency.
 
I hope you enjoyed the coverage again from the Star Tribune this season. Sadly, another season has come to an end.

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New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Seattle
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
TX A&M-CC 70 FINAL
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
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