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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Coyle, Granlund continue to push as Wild defeats Winnipeg

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: September 21, 2013 - 11:13 PM

Entertaining preseason tilt at the X tonight. The Wild jumped out to a 2-0 lead, then gave up three goals in the middle frame to the Winnipeg Jets before recovering with Ryan Suter’s third-period tying goal and Jason Pominville’s shootout winner to improve to 2-1 this preseason.

Charlie Coyle and Carson McMillan also scored goals for the Wild and Niklas Backstrom, despite not really facing any shootouts thus far in training camp, went 3 for 3 in the shootout and stopped a Jets shorthanded breakaway with the Wild up 1-0.

Coyle and Mikael Granlund had real strong games and continue to push. Personally, I don’t see how Coyle doesn’t snag the No. 2 center spot, but that doesn’t mean Granlund can’t find a home in the lineup in some fashion. Remember, Jason Zucker is hurt right now, so depending on his timetable, maybe Granlund nails down the No. 2 left wing spot? He’s battling also with Nino Niederreiter.

Coyle scored the goal, had three shots and won 12 of 15 faceoffs. But he was just a horse. Had a second gear, was constantly a threat all over the ice. Just has this presence and confidence right now.

It’s impressive how well all the kids have played in camp and there are three games left. Tuesday will be a big cutdown day, but I think all the roster hopefuls stay and the players who just don’t have a shot off the bat are sent to Iowa.

Remember, Coyle, Granlund, Zucker, Niederreiter, Erik Haula and Justin Fontaine can’t all make it. There are veterans are on one-way deals that are staying, plain and simple. And the entry-level guys don’t require waivers to get to Iowa, so it allows the Wild to call guys up whenever it needs them. So if one of the prospects don’t make it initially, it doesn’t mean they won’t be back soon if there’s an injury or need.

Torrey Mitchell’s strong camp could mean he nails the third-line right wing spot, which will affect one of the kids. Originally, if you penciled Mitchell in at fourth-line right wing, there could have been a spot for Niederreiter or Zucker at third-line RW. But Mitchell has looked good and seems to be the natural fit with Matt Cooke and Kyle Brodziak.

Fourth line will be interesting. Zenon Konopka won 15 of 20 draws Tuesday and another 8 of 13 tonight (also screened Ondrej Pavalec on McMillan’s goal). Jake Dowell looked real good tonight. If Mike Rupp starts the season on IR with a knee injury, perhaps that opens the door for Fontaine (needs waivers to get to Iowa) or Haula?

We’ll see. As coach Mike Yeo said, three more games left to make decisions.

The Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Pominville line looked great at times and understandably lacked execution at times. It was their first game after all. But they combined for 11 shots and Koivu won 17 of 22 draws.

All three forwards talked about how tough it is that first game to get used to the pace, but Pominville said things slowed down as they got more comfortable.

“Far from perfect by any means, for them, for everybody that played their first game and that’s completely normal,” Yeo said. “When you play your first game, things happen quick. You play your second game, things slow down in a hurry. But with the game on the line and we need a goal, which line goes out and gets it for us?”

Late in a shift, Koivu and Parise hounded the puck in the D zone, Koivu forced a turnover and the line took off. Suter recognized right away he could catch the Jets off guard and hustled into the play. Parise crossed the blue line and sent him a perfect pass in the right circle for a one-timer.

Again, very late in the shift.

“That’s [Suter] though, eh?” Yeo said. “He doesn’t get tired. It’s unreal.”

Yeo said in order to get the top line and D pair conditioning and timing, he gave them a good chunk of ice. The top line played over 21 minutes, Brodin nearly 24 and Suter 28:23.

Yeo really liked Keith Ballard’s game again. The left-shot D played right D, and he had two assists and was plus-2. Very valuable that Ballard can do this because if Matt Dumba happens to not be in the top-6 out of camp, Jared Spurgeon is the only right-shot D. Brodin, a leftie, plays right D, too.

“I believe the more [Ballard] continues to get comfortable with our game and the way we’re playing, he’ll just continue to get better,” Yeo said. “He had a real impact. … His mobility is real noticeable.”

Great rivalry, this one will be. Even in an exhibition game, Jets fans turned out and were loud as usual.

“We’re going to have fun games,” Yeo said of the new division rival.

That’s it for me. Very early turnaround with 9:30 and 11 a.m. practices before an afternoon flight Sunday Columbus. Talk Sunday.


Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 53 3rd Qtr
Golden State 53
Portland 46 3rd Qtr
LA Clippers 48
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 0 3rd Prd
Colorado 2
Montreal 0 3rd Prd
Anaheim 2
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 2nd Half 0:08
Fresno State 67
Nebraska 50 2nd Half 3:35
Illinois 55
Colorado State 78 2nd Half 1:25
Nevada 59
Boise State 60 2nd Half 6:13
San Jose St 40
San Diego St 28 2nd Half
Oregon 27 1st Half 1:23
Oregon State 28
UC Santa Barbara 10:59 PM
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
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