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 looks to regroup against the Tampa Bay Lightning

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: October 16, 2013 - 4:48 PM

The Wild made it to beautiful Tampa, where it practiced this afternoon at the building formerly known as the Ice Palace.

Good afternoon from the top floor of my hotel, where I have a better view than you do right now!!!

Not much going on with the Wild, which finishes off its four-game road trip by playing at Tampa Bay on Thursday and at … wait for it … FLORIDA on Saturday! Nick Bjugstad may play in that game for the Panthers, as well as former Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert.

In Thursday’s newspaper, I wrote about Matt Dumba, so check that story out. I try to delve into the question I’m asked daily on Twitter: Do you think the Wild keeps Dumba after nine games?

At the Ice Palace today, all Wild players practiced, including defenseman Keith Ballard, who took a puck to the face in Buffalo on Monday. Coach Mike Yeo said he had a good practice today. Off the ice, Ballard looks better than he did yesterday, when he appeared to be Zombie-like. So we’ll see Thursday if the Baudette native can return to the lineup.

If not, Yeo will have some decisions to make on the blue line. Nate Prosser played well yesterday, so do you continue to stick with him? Or, do ya throw Matt Dumba, the lone healthy scratch in Toronto, back in? Marco Scandella also played in Toronto.

Niklas Backstrom practiced again today and looked great. He was pushing off that right knee, so Yeo planned to talk to the training staff to see if Backstrom can back up for Josh Harding against the Lightning. Regardless, I’d think he’d be ready by Saturday, so my guess is that by the latest Friday, Darcy Kuemper flies from Florida to Charlotte to start for the Iowa Wild on Saturday.

I had a great interview today with Matt Cooke about Patrick Kaleta and how the Buffalo Sabres heavy hitter, who has been suspended for 10 games for another fly-by head shot on Columbus’ Jack Johnson, can change if he wants to change. Basically, Cooke changed when he realized his career was in jeopardy, and the stats prove it. The past two years, no major penalties in the regular season, no suspensions, no fines, few penalty minutes. The NHL doesn’t even deem him a repeat offender anymore. This year, he’s not only leading the Wild in scoring, he doesn’t have a single penalty minute.

I’ll write about all this in my Sunday Insider.

Spirits were high around the Wild today, which is a good thing after a 4-1 loss to Toronto where the Wild controlled the game from start to finish. As Yeo said, it’s easy to have your confidence shaken when you outshoot a team 37-14 and lose 4-1.

He made a point to the team that the last time this happened – the season-opening shootout loss to Los Angeles – the Wild didn’t respond the right way and came out flat against Anaheim. The Ducks struck twice and the Wild had to claw back before eventually forcing overtime, where it lost with five seconds left.

So he wants a good response against the Lightning. Tampa Bay’s got Steven Stamkos, but the Wild may catch a break because Martin St. Louis is questionable with a foot injury.

Cooke, echoing Parise, said the Wild needs to pull out some wins here and can’t always be saying after every loss, ‘well, we deserved better.’

“At the end of the day, we still lost,” Cooke said. “I think you draw positives, but without being satisfied. There’s more to be done. We have to find ways to win games. At the end of the day, you don’t make the playoffs because you carried the play all season. You make the playoffs because you have more points than the other teams.”

Today’s practice was all about “finishing,” something the Wild’s lacked often this year.

Yeo was status quo with all his forward lines and D pairs today, but he said that’s not necessarily how he’ll go into the game Thursday.

However, Yeo said he doesn’t want to overreact to a loss where the Wild dominated.

He did talk with Dany Heatley after Tuesday’s game and plans to watch his shifts together with Heatley before Thursday’s game.

Yeo said also a big focus right now is cleaning up the leaky penalty kill. He said they’re making little errors – not huge ones – and when they do, they’re ending up in the back of the net. A couple of the PK goals against have been on 5-on-3’s. There have also been some bad goals. But the Wild’s got to be better on the PK.

“We need some games here where we’re pretty close to flawless,” Yeo said.

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Tampa Bay - WP: J. McGee 6 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Morrow 5
Cleveland - LP: B. Shaw 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 6
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
NY Mets - LP: J. Niese 0
Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Turner 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: E. Volquez 7
Miami - WP: A. DeSclafani 5 FINAL
Philadelphia - LP: J. Papelbon 4
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 2 FINAL
Milwaukee - WP: M. Garza 9
Boston - WP: J. Kelly 8 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Vargas 4
Minnesota - WP: T. May 6 FINAL
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 4
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: M. Gonzales 4
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 10
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 6 FINAL
LA Angels - LP: H. Santiago 1
Los Angeles - WP: C. Kershaw 4 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2
San Diego - LP: O. Despaigne 6 FINAL
Arizona - WP: Z. Spruill 8
Oakland - WP: J. Lester 4 FINAL
Seattle - LP: C. Young 0
NY Yankees - LP: D. Robertson 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: D. O`Day 3
Miami 10 FINAL
Buffalo 29
Jacksonville 10 FINAL
Washington 41
Dallas 26 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Arizona 25 FINAL
NY Giants 14
New England 30 FINAL
Minnesota 7
New Orleans 24 FINAL
Cleveland 26
Atlanta 10 FINAL
Cincinnati 24
Detroit 7 FINAL
Carolina 24
St. Louis 19 FINAL
Tampa Bay 17
Seattle 21 FINAL
San Diego 30
NY Jets 24 FINAL
Green Bay 31
Kansas City 17 FINAL
Denver 24
Houston 30 FINAL
Oakland 14
Chicago 28 FINAL
San Francisco 20
Philadelphia 7:30 PM
Indianapolis
Tampa Bay 9/18/14 7:25 PM
Atlanta
Boise State 38 FINAL
Connecticut 21
Indiana 42 FINAL
Bowling Green 45
Ga Southern 38 FINAL
Georgia Tech 42
Syracuse 40 FINAL
Central Mich 3
UCF 10 FINAL
(18) Missouri 38
Massachusetts 31 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
Ohio U 14 FINAL
Marshall 44
West Virginia 40 FINAL
Maryland 37
Kent State 0 FINAL
(23) Ohio State 66
Pittsburgh 42 FINAL
FIU 25
East Carolina 28 FINAL
Virginia Tech 21
Louisville 21 FINAL
Virginia 23
Wyoming 14 FINAL
(2) Oregon 48
Air Force 48 FINAL
Georgia State 38
(13) Georgia 35 FINAL
(14) So Carolina 38
Arkansas 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 28
Iowa State 20 FINAL
Iowa 17
Miami-Ohio 10 FINAL
Michigan 34
Kansas 3 FINAL
Duke 41
NC State 49 FINAL
So Florida 17
Arkansas State 20 FINAL
Miami-Florida 41
Miss State 35 FINAL
South Alabama 3
Louisiana 15 FINAL
(10) Ole Miss 56
Minnesota 7 FINAL
TCU 30
Illinois 19 FINAL
Washington 44
Army 0 FINAL
(16) Stanford 35
Western Mich 45 FINAL
Idaho 33
Eastern Mich 3 FINAL
Old Dominion 17
Southern Miss 12 FINAL
(3) Alabama 52
Northern Ill 48 FINAL
UNLV 34
Tulsa 21 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 50
ULM 0 FINAL
(8) LSU 31
Wake Forest 24 FINAL
Utah State 36
Western Ky 47 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 50
TX-San Antonio 13 FINAL
(25) Oklahoma State 43
Purdue 14 FINAL
(9) Notre Dame 30
Kentucky 30 FINAL
Florida 36
New Mexico St 24 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 42
Tennessee 10 FINAL
(4) Oklahoma 34
(17) USC 31 FINAL
Boston College 37
Navy 35 FINAL
Texas State 21
(12) UCLA 20 FINAL
Texas 17
Penn State 13 FINAL
Rutgers 10
Rice 10 FINAL
(6) Texas A&M 38
(15) Arizona State 38 FINAL
Colorado 24
(24) Nebraska 55 FINAL
Fresno State 19
Nevada 28 FINAL
Arizona 35
(5) Auburn 9/18/14 6:30 PM
(20) Kansas State
Connecticut 9/19/14 7:00 PM
So Florida
Old Dominion 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Rice
Troy 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Georgia Tech 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Virginia Tech
Eastern Mich 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Iowa 9/20/14 11:00 AM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/20/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Maryland 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Syracuse
Tulane 9/20/14 11:30 AM
Duke
Hawaii 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Marshall 9/20/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Carolina 9/20/14 2:30 PM
East Carolina
Army 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Virginia 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(21) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 9/20/14 2:30 PM
SMU
Rutgers 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Central Mich 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Kansas
Utah 9/20/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Florida 9/20/14 2:30 PM
(3) Alabama
Louisville 9/20/14 2:30 PM
FIU
Fla Atlantic 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Indiana 9/20/14 3:00 PM
(18) Missouri
San Jose St 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Minnesota
Texas State 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Illinois
Massachusetts 9/20/14 3:00 PM
Penn State
Georgia State 9/20/14 5:00 PM
Washington
Appalachian St 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Miss State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
(8) LSU
Northern Ill 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas
Middle Tennessee 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Memphis
Utah State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Miami-Ohio 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Idaho 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Ohio U
Ball State 9/20/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
(14) So Carolina 9/20/14 6:30 PM
Vanderbilt
(4) Oklahoma 9/20/14 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Ga Southern 9/20/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
UNLV 9/20/14 7:00 PM
Houston
(22) Clemson 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State
Miami-Florida 9/20/14 7:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
New Mexico 9/20/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 9/20/14 9:00 PM
Arizona
Louisiana 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Boise State
(2) Oregon 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
San Diego St 9/20/14 9:30 PM
Oregon State
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
San Jose 1
Montreal 16 FINAL
Edmonton 33
Toronto 33 FINAL
Calgary 40
Winnipeg 9 FINAL
Brt Columbia 26
Saskatchewan 3 FINAL
Hamilton 28
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