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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Yeo explains Kuemper's start, sitting Dumba tonight against Toronto; Prosser to make season debut

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 15, 2013 - 4:43 PM

Josh Harding does get the night off for Darcy Kuemper tonight.

Coach Mike Yeo said Kuemper had a good camp and “we want to see what he can do in a game that he certainly is going to be challenged. But he’s a guy we have confidence in.”

Most of all, as I’ve indicated, the Wild doesn’t want to burn out Harding six games into the season. He’s played the past four games, and in my opinion, the Wild can’t risk any health issues with Harding for two reasons: 1) Niklas Backstrom has a knee injury; 2) Backstrom wasn’t playing particularly well beforehand.

So to make him play back-to-back wasn’t something Yeo was willing to do, especially because Harding has multiple sclerosis.

“He’s been playing so well, I don’t want to put him in a bad spot,” Yeo said, before inferring Harding’s M.S. “He hasn’t had any complaints, he hasn’t come to us and shown any kind of fatigues or symptoms or any problems whatsoever. With that said, back-to-back games are pretty tough on those goalies, so it’s a good opportunity to get Kuemps in and see what he can do.”

Quickly, I’ll write about Matt Dumba later this week and explain the situation, but he’s being pulled tonight because of a rough game last night. First, Yeo said he told Marco Scandella he’d play tonight. Yeo said, “It didn’t matter if we won 10-0 yesterday, he was going to play this game.” But second, as I said on the last blog, part of Dumba’s development will be coming out of lineups to watch from above, working with the coaches for extended periods in the morning

This is completely normal. It doesn’t mean Yeo hates Dumba, like some of the absurd tweets I’ve gotten today have claimed. My goodness. He’s 19.

Keith Ballard isn’t 100 percent. He looks foggy and hurting, so he won’t play tonight for precautionary reasons, Yeo said. Nate Prosser will make his season debut.

Yeo said Prosser should be “extremely motivated to play this game” after being scratched in six straight.

Yeo said no excuses tonight. The Wild rolled four lines (you can by the ice times) last night so the forwards wouldn’t be tired tonight, so Yeo said, “I want to come into this game head-on and we should have no excuses).

On Matt Cooke, who has six points in six games, Yeo joked, “We are expecting him to get 82 points this year.” When I noted he had no penalty minutes, Yeo said, “That’s an interesting stat, isn’t it?”

Again, James Reimer for Toronto. Surprising since Jonathan Bernier munches on the Wild. Three of his seven career shutouts are against the Wild. Talk after the game.


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