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: Wild needs more from some vets and will Dumba stay or go?

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 28, 2013 - 11:47 PM

Disappointing loss for the Wild tonight. The team's been playing good hockey, so this is far from the end of the world. It was sort of its first clunker of the season, losing 5-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks.

But the Wild’s execution was off all night and it started on the first shift of the game when there were two turnovers the first shift and that trickled into the second and third shifts.

But the Wild rebounded, and even when the Wild was down 1-0, coach Mike Yeo felt his team was “largely in control.” He felt the Wild had good energy, created good chances, defended hard and defended well even though the execution “wasn’t exactly sharp.”

Finally, Mikael Granlund set up Jason Pominville for a howitzer and the forward’s third goal in two goals, sixth goal in eight games and team-leading seventh. The next shift, Matt Cooke nearly scored twice and it looked like the Wild was now well on its way to really taking control.

And then, just careless mistakes. First a Clayton Stoner icing led to a mismatch in lines. After the ensuing faceoff, Mikko Koivu tried to pass to Torrey Mitchell. Mitchell couldn’t clear and fell, and then the Wild was in scramble mode. Matt Dumba collided with Niklas Backstrom, and the Wild goalie just got stuck in mud, was slow to recover and Sheldon Brookbank easily made it 2-1.

Ninety-nine seconds later, Marco Scandella was handed a dubious holding penalty. Regardless of what you think of the call, the Wild’s penalty kill, like it has over and over and over again this season, gave up a costly one. Koivu coughed up the puck and this came right as Brandon Saad knocked down Backstrom.

Brent Seabrook wheeled the puck over to Nick Leddy and Leddy recognized that Backstrom wasn’t set. He unloaded and scored his first goal in 12 games vs. the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009.

Dumba played a starring role in Patrick Kane scoring 2:47 into the third and the game was pretty much over at that point as Chicago skated to a 5-1 win to snap Minnesota’s four-game home winning streak.

Coach Mike Yeo wasn’t pleased with most players, other than the Nino Niederreiter-Granlund-Pominville line, which makes you think Charlie Coyle may start on the top-line right wing with Zach Parise and Koivu if he’s able to return Friday. The Wild needs more from Koivu. He has one goal on 30 shots in 13 games and tonight was on the ice for three goals. The Wild needs more from Dany Heatley, who has no goals with a goalie in net and has 22 shots this season. The Wild’s got to figure this out. It’s not a coincidence that the second line finally started scoring when he was taken off. I’m not convinced they’re ready to scratch him because they don’t want a six-month soap opera ahead, but if he’s not scoring goals, he is not productive. Some players can get away with not contributing offensively because they make impacts in other areas. That has not been the case this year for Heatley. And after tonight, one’s got to think Josh Harding will be back in the cage if he’s healthy enough to be by Friday. Backstrom didn’t control his rebounds well tonight and was slow to recover on the second and third goals – the back-breaking goals.

Read the gamer for the quotes. Yeo wouldn’t single out any players, but he wasn’t happy with some of the efforts, saying some of the “plays out there were odd.”

The Wild went 6-4-3 in its first month of the season. Of those seven losses, four or five at least could have been wins. Defensively, it’s been good. Offensively, it’s still a work in progress. PK stinks.

“It was kind of a weird month,” Pominville said. “We probably lost some games that we should’ve won and won some games that we maybe didn’t deserve to win.

“We’ve kind of turned a corner as of late but tonight was one that kind of slipped by us. If you look at the overall picture, we know we can be better and just keep pushing toward improving. We’ve got a good a group of guys and a lot of good things are ahead of us, but we’ve got to keep working toward everything we get.

“I don’t think we were that off early on. We did a lot of good things and capitalized on a few opportunities. Obviously the third period wasn’t what we wanted it to be. We sat back and kind of stopped playing. But for a good chunk of the time we did some good things. They’re a good team and they make plays, but it’s on us to be better and play a complete game.”

Dumba obviously had a very tough night. On for three of the last four goals for Chicago, although Yeo let him off the hook for the difficult third, saying, if the Wild was going to get back in the game, “We’ve got to try some things. If it doesn’t work, it could end up badly.”

The big question now is whether the Wild is going to let one game where Dumba looked miscast against the Blackhawks override the decision as a whole and return him to Red Deer.

I still don’t think it will, but we will see. The big question the Wild has to answer is if Dumba is going to play more often than he sits and when he plays, will he have a significant role?

I have evolved. I used to think it made little sense to have teenage defensemen in the NHL, unless they’re as special as a guy like Jonas Brodin. But would it really hurt Dumba’s development being in the NHL for a year working with Rick Wilson and Darryl Sydor as opposed to returning to junior?

And as I mentioned on one of yesterday’s blogs, I still think it could be a risk to send Dumba back because he adds depth to the team. As we saw these past two weeks with Brodin and Keith Ballard hurt, you can find yourself short defensemen quick in this game. If Dumba wasn’t here, the Wild would have had to turn to Iowa.

Also, if it’s true Chuck Fletcher doesn’t care about burning a year of Dumba’s contract, then maybe the Wild keep him for now, take a longer look at home, work with him longer and send him back at a later date if that’s the decision. In other words, there’s no rush if Fletcher really doesn’t care making his three-year contract kick in.

Remember, he can be sent back to junior at any time. The reason why now is a threshold is because his contract doesn’t slide a year if he plays in his 10th game.

Yeo said the Wild will make a decision based on what his role would be, how often he plays and how it’ll affect his development. Obviously, if Dumba stays, he’s got to play. So the Wild has to make the decision whether it’s willing to live and die with Dumba, who is still quite raw, and while he makes some awesome plays nightly, he has shown at times a player that gets rattled and makes some costly mistakes.

We will see. The Wild has Tuesday off, so there may be no news on this front. The Wild next practices Wednesday.

That’s it for me. I will be on KFAN on Tuesday morning at 9 a.m.


Tennessee 10 2nd Qtr 3:38
Jacksonville 0
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 45 3rd Qtr
Chicago 52
New Orleans 41 2nd Qtr 3:53
Houston 37
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 1 3rd Prd 2:21
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 3rd Prd 1:15
Pittsburgh 0
Toronto 1 3rd Prd 4:02
Carolina 3
Washington 3 3rd Prd 4:52
Columbus 3
Anaheim 1 2nd Prd 6:07
Montreal 0
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 65 1st OT 1:05
South Dakota St 70
Oakland City 43 2nd Half 8:15
Austin Peay 50
Eureka 31 2nd Half 8:50
Bradley 60
Appalachian St 51 2nd Half 10:25
Charlotte 52
Connecticut 32 2nd Half 13:54
Duke 40
Southern Miss 24 2nd Half 14:29
Jackson State 45
Coastal Carolina 53 2nd Half 9:27
Ole Miss 52
Montana State 26 2nd Half
South Dakota 27
LSU 20 1st Half 7:51
UAB 26
Ohio 18 1st Half 9:51
Evansville 20
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 19 2nd Half
Tulane 26
New Orleans 35 2nd Half 12:17
Tulsa 53
Incarnate Word 32 2nd Half 12:43
TX-Pan American 38
Ark-Little Rock 19 2nd Half 11:21
South Dakota St 51
CS-Northridge 37 2nd Half
Northern Ariz 43
Santa Clara 15 1st Half 9:33
Oregon 19
(19) Oklahoma St 9 1st Half 11:09
Weber State 10
Washington 12 1st Half 10:06
San Diego State 12
Cal Poly 24 1st Half 8:41
New Mexico 21
(10) Louisville 16 1st Half 11:25
Grand Canyon 11
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