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.


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 88 FINAL
Washington 101
Orlando 102 FINAL
Charlotte 94
Memphis 93 4th Qtr 2:13
Miami 89
Indiana 79 4th Qtr
Brooklyn 65
New Orleans 75 4th Qtr 9:43
Chicago 86
Atlanta 44 3rd Qtr 9:32
Milwaukee 41
Philadelphia 23 2nd Qtr 6:11
Utah 32
New York 9:00 PM
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 3 FINAL(SO)
Buffalo 4
Detroit 3 FINAL(OT)
Ottawa 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
New Jersey 1 FINAL
NY Rangers 3
Boston 2 FINAL
Columbus 6
Winnipeg 3 1st OT 4:04
Minnesota 3
Washington 3 3rd Prd 7:47
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 4 3rd Prd
St. Louis 2
Philadelphia 1 3rd Prd
Nashville 3
Anaheim 1 3rd Prd 18:47
Arizona 1
Chicago 2 2nd Prd
Colorado 2
Edmonton 9:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 55 FINAL
Ohio State 100
Presbyterian 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 87
Brescia 42 FINAL
Western Ky 89
Tennessee St 40 2nd Half 11:58
Tennessee 46
Kennesaw St 18 2nd Half
Illinois 54
Colorado State 22 2nd Half
New Mexico St 20
Portland 29 2nd Half
San Diego 27
Wayland Baptist 27 2nd Half
Utah State 33
Bristol University 33 2nd Half
Weber State 53
Sacramento St 38 2nd Half
Utah Valley U 32
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 17 2nd Qtr 0:33
(24) USC 24
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 87 2nd Half 0:27
Portland 64
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