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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Early guesses at Wild's lineup tonight include Kuemper in goal and Dumba upstairs

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 15, 2013 - 11:34 AM

Afternoon from the Mothership -- Air Canada Centre in the Center of the Hockey Universe, Toronto.

The Wild held a very optional skate this morning, which included coach Mike Yeo, so you'll have to wait until after 5 p.m. ET for confirmation of the lineup. That's when we're meeting with Yeo.

BUT, my guess is Darcy Kuemper makes his fourth career start for all the reasons on yesterday's blog. Plus, with Niklas Backstrom working his way back from a knee injury, it makes little sense to risk injury tonight to Josh Harding in the second of back-to-backs in what is bound to be a tough game to begin with.

The Eastern Conference-leading Maple Leafs are rested, are fast, skate hard, and sometimes you have to throw in a sacrificial lamb and pray.

OK, way too dramatic, but Kuemper, the former Canadian Hockey League Goalie of the Year, seems to be getting the nod. We'll see for sure later.

Marco Scandella appears to be back in for the Wild.

Matt Dumba, who had a very rough go last night, gets the second of back-to-backs off in a very intimidating rink. And my goodness, judging from the tweets I'm receiving about Dumba not playing, calm down!

He is a 19-year-old defenseman. Very raw. He had a bad game last night, so much so the Wild had to rotate three D on a third-period PK. So you pull the kid have him watch from above tonight, have him work with the assistant coaches this morning. This is why he is here, TO DEVELOP and LEARN by playing, watching, working, practicing.

Nate Prosser did not get bagged with Dumba and Mike Rupp, so my guess is he was pulled off in case Clayton Stoner, who took a forearm to the face during a fight last night in Buffalo, or Keith Ballard, who took a puck to the face, can't play.

If that's the case, it'd go:

Suter-Brodin

Ballard/Scandella-Spurgeon

Scandella/Ballard-Prosser

If Prosser doesn't make his season debut, it'd likely go:

Suter-Brodin

Scandella-Spurgeon

Stoner-Ballard

James Reimer starting for the Leafs. James van Riemsdyk is questionable. The Leafs will see how he responds to some treatment today before making a decision.

I'll update the blog later today.

I'll be on Hockey Central with Daren Millard, Nick Kypreos and THE Doug MacLean at 11:40 a.m. CT and TSN's Off the Record this afternoon.

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