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, still optimistic after Thursday's opener, prepares for the Anaheim Ducks

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: October 4, 2013 - 2:06 PM

Afternoon from the X, where scrappy Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau is currently below on the ice surface putting Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and the rest of the Anaheim gang through a practice.

The Wild coaches are in the stands watching. The Ducks coaches, including some goalie coach who looks strangely like Dwayne Roloson, did the same during Minnesota's workout.

Painful start to practice. You know how coaches ask players to "pay the price." Well, the coaches apparently do, too.

Andrew Brunette, who once upon a time -- actually in two different stints -- wore a Wild sweater, took a puck to the chin immediately at the start of practice. Afterward, Bruno emerged with a chin the size of Jay Leno's, four stitches on the inside of his mouth and eight on the outside.

“I’ve had enough stitches to stitch a baseball in my career. I thought when I retired, ‘That’s it,’” Brunette said.

The Wild moved on with practice without Brunette and Yeo put the Wild through battle drills and execution drills. They worked on the "little things."

Charlie Coyle, who had a solid game at junctures, also had some young mistakes. On Jeff Carter's tying goal, he was walked in the neutral zone and then was slow to get into the zone and pick up Carter.

Coyle took a swan dive on the knife today and basically said if he picks up his guy, the Wild maybe wins 2-1.

Still, the atmosphere was good Friday after playing well Thursday.

Yeo was real happy with guys like Kyle Brodziak, who had a stellar game (probably would have loved to bury that goal with a minute left), and Mikael Granlund, who assisted on both Wild goals, was often first or second in on the forecheck, blocked two shots and drew a power play that could have won the game in the final minutes.

"He maturing in a lot of ways," Yeo said.

Niklas Backstrom will start vs. the Ducks. Yeo wouldn't say yet if Matt Dumba will make his NHL debut. Clayton Stoner played well yesterday alongside Keith Ballard and Jonas Brodin played well and scored a goal on the second power-play unit.

My gut though is Dumba plays for Stoner. I just get the sense that the Wild doesn't want to have Dumba sitting for long. At some point you want him to debut and probably at home, not on the road. Plus, I think the team flew in Dumba's folks for these games.

Everybody practiced today. Yeo admitted the top line looked tired late in yesterday's game, but he also said so did L.A.'s top line and those are "heavy, hard minutes" when you go head to head vs. Anze Kopitar.

If you want to get a laugh, I was pretty surly on Twitter today with some folks. Go take a gander. Just seems to be silly season on Twitter and some of the comments got to me.

It's one game folks, a game in which the Wild outplayed one of the best teams in the league for the majority of it.

Just an fyi: I put out a tweet last night that had an error with Year 1/4 salary/bonuses for Jason Pominville's contract.

The correct numbers are:
2014-15 $6 M
2015-16 $5.75 M
2016-17 $6.25 M
2017-18 $5 M
2018-19 $5 M
 

Frankly though, unless you're Craig Leipold, you don't need to care about those numbers. The one that matters is his salary-cap hit, $5.6 million, which is the average of the contract -- $28 million by five years.

Again, GM Chuck Fletcher said the Pominville deal doesn't inhibit the Wild from re-signing its own players or pursuing other free agents.

OK, need to run and get Selanne for a story.

Talk to you after Saturday's morning skate.

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