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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Postgame reaction to Wild's 2-1 shootout loss to Florida

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 19, 2013 - 10:47 PM

As Mike Yeo said after Saturday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers, “familiar script.”

So familiar, I could probably get away with tossing up a previous Wild blog or game story from this road trip in this space, change a couple words and depart into the humid Florida evening.

But alas, you want a fresh blog and here I am to provide one.

Forgive me, I’m loopy on cold medication.

The Wild coach mixed up his top three lines in search of offense and departed with another one goal loss, although with one point in the standings. Playing against a young team that had lost six of eight, the Wild again turned its opposition goaltender into a two-time Vezina Trophy winner and one-time Conn Smythe winner.

Only this time it wasn’t Jhonas Enroth, James Reimer or Ben Bishop in net. It was actually Tim Thomas, who won those above awards. He made 30 saves, including eight on a frustrated Zach Parise, who went goalless on the trip despite 21 shots.

Tonight, Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Dany Heatley and Ryan Suter had a 79-second 5-on-3 to break a 1-1 tie in the third period and, as Suter said, “I think we had two scoring chances.”

It was an ugly display. Shanked shots, turnover and a near icing.

“Whenever you don’t capitalize on that, something bad probably is going to happen,” Suter said. “We have to get better chances.”

Even in the third period, it felt like the Wild spent the majority of the period in Florida’s end, yet somehow managed four shots. Parise, whose seething quotes can be read in the game story on www.startribune.com/wild, said the Wild was “too perimeter.”

I will say this: Parise was seething after this one. His whole demeanor reminded me of Feb. 12 in Vancouver when the Wild lost 2-1 to the Canucks. The Wild had scored seven goals in a six-game, 2-4-1, stretch – one goal each in six of the seven games.

The Wild did find a way to start scoring goals, but it is amazing that no matter the coach, system or players, this team historically struggles to score.

The Wild’s 3-3-3, yet has given up a league-low 21.8 shots per game and a league-low five 5-on-5 goals. Yet, they’re 3-3-3. It’s amazing.

“I’m disappointed for our guys, to be honest with you, because they’ve been playing their tails off and we’re playing great defensively, we’re playing our tails off, we’re generating chances, but we’re not winning games,” Yeo said. “And you can tell that guys, it’s in their heads a little bit. You can see it in the 5-on-3, you can see it in the shootout. Guys are playing their tails off and they’re not getting rewarded, so as a staff, we have to help them out here to figure out what we can do to mentally and what we can do, whether it’s personnel or whether it’s again adjusting lines or whether it’s something tactically, we have to figure something out because it’s obviously tough winning games 1-0.”

One would have hoped Friday’s day off in the sun of South Florida would have reset the minds, but it was clear on the 5-on-3 the Wild was pressing and gripping its sticks tight. Just look at Koivu’s two shanks.

“The guys came in with a good mindset, but we can’t sit here and say, ‘Oh geez, hopefully one of those good chances goes in for us in the first period and then we feel better,’” Yeo said. “It’s something that’s in our heads and we have to find a way to get it out. But at the same time, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves. We have to keep battling. We’ve got a big stretch of games coming up at home and we’ve got to be prepared to start making a run here.”

Yeo said, “We need a great practice on Monday and certainly having a little bit more practice time – during this stretch we haven’t had practice time, you can’t get out there to work your shot, you can’t do things to build confidence through practice, through just going out and doing the right thing over and over again and feeling good about it, so certainly that’ll help.”

The young kids were great tonight, especially Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund Niederreiter and Granlund combined to draw the penalty before Jonas Brodin’s goal and then combined to set it up with Heatley, who again had a few glaring turnovers tonight.

Yeo said on Nino and Granlund: Those guys, they’re just going to keep getting more opportunity. They deserve it. So I’m going to start getting those guys out there if they can keep playing like that. They just keep winning more and more opportunity and I’m ready to give it to them.”

Is he talking even 5-on-3’s?

“I don’t know about that,” Yeo said. “We'll sit there with Bruno (Andrew Brunette) and look at it and figure it out. Again, we're fighting it a little bit there. These are the things that you have to think of big picture. Do we want to start taking people off there and hurt their confidence more? Is it a matter of sticking behind them and helping them get through it? If we feel that somebody is not cutting it, if they're not putting the effort in, if they're not doing the right things, OK. But again our guys are doing a lot of the right things and we have to help them get to it.”

On if he’ll continue to go with Harding (which, how can’t he): “That's obviously something we'll have to consider. We do want to get Backy in at some point -- we don't want him sitting around forever. But Hards has been great. He's been nothing but great and again tonight he had no chance on that goal. He's doing a heck of a job making [the Niklas Backstrom-Harding decision] tough on us.”

Does he feel for Harding?

“I feel for our whole group. We deserve better. That was kind of my message. We're not a .500 team. We're not built to be .500. We're a better team than that and we could sit here and argue -- I mean scoring chances on the season, we've gone over them, we're close to 2-to-1. So we could sit here and argue we deserve to be better, but the bottom line is we're not. So we have to figure it out and we have to find a way to rectify that.”


It’s harder when you’re going through it. I don’t have any answers. I don’t know. You just keep shooting and know and hope that it’s going to go in for us soon. But we’ve got to do something a little better. what that is, I’d like to find out sooner than later because it’s killing us right now.

Wild’s PK continues to be brutal. Careless penalties and a porous penalty kill is a bad combination. The tying goal in the third by Aleks Barkov came off that. The Wild’s PK ranks 29th as of this moment and has given up at least one goal in eight of nine games.

That’s it for me. The Wild has the day off Sunday, and then I'm off Monday and Tuesday. Rachel's covering both days, including the game vs. Nashville on Tuesday, although I'll probably go to the game to tweet and blog.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Milwaukee 115 FINAL
Orlando 100
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 103
Denver 69 FINAL
Memphis 99
Chicago 118 FINAL
LA Lakers 123
Montreal 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 0
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Boston 5 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
Arizona 3 FINAL
Toronto 1
Dallas 6 FINAL
Ottawa 3
Detroit 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 5
Columbus 2 FINAL
Florida 3
Nashville 4 FINAL(SO)
St. Louis 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Calgary 0
Buffalo 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Anaheim 3 FINAL
San Jose 6
DePaul 72 FINAL
Providence 83
Michigan State 71 FINAL
Rutgers 51
Boston Univ 67 FINAL
Army 71
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Charlotte 86
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Detroit 93
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George Mason 68
USC Upstate 78 FINAL
Jacksonville 65
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Liberty 53
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Long Island 67
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Louisiana Tech 69
Dayton 64 FINAL
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Mercer 75
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UNC Greensboro 42
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Robert Morris 87
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Northern Ky 75 FINAL
Stetson 85
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Ga Southern 83
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UT Martin 81
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North Dakota 60
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Arkansas State 65
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Missouri 53
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Northern Colorado 79
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USC 94
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UC Irvine 67
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Pepperdine 50 FINAL
Pacific 43
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San Diego 69
Utah 59 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 64 FINAL
UC Davis 70
Montana 73 FINAL
Portland State 54
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Cal State Fullerton 85
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St Marys-CA 68
San Francisco 74 FINAL
BYU 78
California 76 FINAL
Washington St 67
Louisiana 47 FINAL
South Alabama 57
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Georgia Southern 74
Niagara 58 FINAL
Saint Peters 65
Old Dominion 80 FINAL
FIU 67
Southern Miss 65 FINAL
Marshall 67
Georgia State 45 FINAL
TX-Arlington 57
Ark-Little Rock 69 FINAL
Arkansas State 70
Troy 90
Pittsburgh 45 FINAL
(17) Duke 62
(6) Tennessee 73 FINAL
(10) Kentucky 72
(24) Oklahoma 81 FINAL
(14) Texas 84
Nebraska Omaha 59 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 70
UC-Riverside 68 FINAL
CS-Northridge 56
Army 65 FINAL
Boston U 40
New Orleans 40 FINAL
Nicholls 56
Charlotte 68 FINAL
Florida Atlantic 71
Towson 54 FINAL
Delaware 72
Hofstra 66 FINAL
Northeastern 45
New Hampshire 56 FINAL
Maine 87
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Vermont 48
Hartford 60 FINAL
Stony Brook 58
UNC-Wilmington 62 FINAL
William & Mary 67
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Wake Forest 64
Alabama 54 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 85
(23) Syracuse 58 FINAL
(8) Louisville 78
Missouri 68 FINAL
Florida 52
Iona 66 FINAL
Fairfield 77
Manhattan 38 FINAL
Marist 77
NC State 63 FINAL
Virginia 71
(4) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Virginia Tech 50
(22) Rutgers 58 FINAL
Purdue 49
(5) Maryland 91 FINAL
Michigan 65
Milwaukee 58 FINAL
Cleveland State 67
Wright State 108 FINAL
Oakland 89
Jacksonville 64 FINAL
USC Upstate 66
North Florida 40 FINAL
Kennesaw St 46
Stetson 62 FINAL
Northern Ky 68
Loyola-Maryland 57 FINAL
Holy Cross 51
Lamar 87 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Fla Gulf Coast 71 FINAL
Lipscomb 49
Vanderbilt 44 FINAL
(18) Miss State 69
Western Ill 73
Abilene Christian 53 FINAL
Houston Baptist 50
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 63
McNeese State 78 FINAL
SE Louisiana 57
Oral Roberts 46 FINAL
South Dakota St 71
Louisiana Tech 66 FINAL
Western Ky 82
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 73
Texas-El Paso 52 FINAL
UAB 67
Auburn 47 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Grand Canyon 65 FINAL
Illinois 57 FINAL
(15) Nebraska 59
(20) Iowa 102 FINAL
Northwestern 99
Utah Valley U 55 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Green Bay 67 FINAL
Valparaiso 52
Ole Miss 41 FINAL
LSU 70
Portland State 31 FINAL
Montana 72
Sacramento St 64 FINAL
Montana State 91
North Dakota 55 FINAL
Weber State 48
Ohio State 85 FINAL
Wisconsin 73
Northern Colorado 61 FINAL
Idaho State 70
San Francisco 63
St Marys-CA 56 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 49
Pacific 63 FINAL
Pepperdine 59
Cal-Irvine 61 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 58
San Diego 64 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
UC Davis 64 FINAL
Cal Poly 72
Long Beach St 64 2nd Half 0:26
Hawaii 70
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