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: PK comes up large, and other thoughts after Wild's shutout over Devils

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: November 4, 2013 - 8:47 AM

Nice win for the Wild tonight after a slow start. Minnesota finally found its legs and took two points from a sub-par Devils team who was shorthanded by injuries, hasn’t scored now in seven periods and who played the night before.

Wild has won five of six with tonight’s 4-zip win over the Devils. Josh Harding made 19 stops for his ninth career shutout and second of the season. He’s now 7-2-1 with a 1.10 goals against average and .950 save percentage and is 6-0 at home with a 1.06 goals against average and .950 save percentage.

The Wild’s not practicing Monday, but it’s safe to say he’ll be starting Tuesday against Calgary.

Mikael Granlund scored his first goal of the season, which was his first career winning goal, extended his point streak to five games, won 6 of 10 faceoffs, had three hits and a big blocked shot on the PK.

Torrey Mitchell scored his first goal when a Zach Parise rebound ricocheted off of him. He has not clue where, but he said he’d take it. Dany Heatley, who seems to be handling fourth-line duty with a good attitude, scored on the power play and Jason Pominville scored an empty-netter for his 10th goal, which is third in the NHL.

Nino Niederreiter assisted on three goals. Wild’s won five of six and is now 2-1 on the homestand.

Good evening from the X. It’s Russo. I’m back from my friend’s wedding. It felt like I was away from the team for a month, but it’s nice to be back. I'll be live in studio at KFAN at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Before I continue, if you missed my Thomas Vanek column from Sunday, please give it a read here. Fitting after yet another big game from Granlund and Niederreiter.

Some random thoughts:

--Wild’s PK was solid tonight, going 3 for 3 and generating momentum for a change. Then the Wild learned its lesson and didn’t take another penalty after four first-period minors. But this is a good sign for a PK that has had some big kills lately but was still 28th in the NHL and had given up at least one PPG in 12 of the previous 14 games.

--The Wild also won 39 of 54 faceoffs (72 percent), with Mikko Koivu winning 14 of 20 and Kyle Brodziak winning 11 of 13. That obviously led to more and more puck possession as the night moved on. The Wild’s second in the NHL in faceoff win percentage.

-- Torrey Mitchell had a strong game and got the goal. He was elevated to top line duty with Zach Parise (assist) and Mikko Koivu.

“He’s played with energy, he’s worked his butt off all year,” coach Mike Yeo said. “I just felt Mikko and Zach needed a straight-line, hard-working [guy]. He is a team first guy. He never ever is going to turn around and say ‘what’s in it for me?’ He just wants to help the team. It’s hard to put into words how valuable that is.”

Between Mitchell and Justin Fontaine and Niederreiter, Yeo has been able to slot players up and down the lineup this year, although as far as finding a first-line right wing for Koivu and Parise, Yeo said, “I kind of would like somebody to jump up and just take it for good, but that said, when guys have gone up, they’ve responded and done the job.”

-- Heatley was good tonight, and I wrote that on Twitter before the goal. You could see it in the first when he was making some tape-to-tape passes, generating chances, not turning pucks over, winning battles.

He’s not dumb. He’s on the fourth line. He knows next stop is the press box or worse. Theoretically, if it ever got to the point where the Wild felt like it exhausted every avenue to get him playing, it could place him on waivers and send him to Iowa. Contrary to some belief out there, Heatley does not have a no-move clause. He has a limited, 10-team no-trade clause. Still, that’d be a heck of a step and I don’t think we’re anywhere near that.

So Heatley looks like he’s responded well.

“He handled it the right way,” Yeo said. “If he didn’t score that goal, I could still sit here and say that was probably his best game. He came to the rink, he had a good attitude, he never pouted. What he did was focused on his own game.”

Yeo said that if he went back and looked at Heatley’s shifts, he’d see a good forechecking game, puck strength, making plays on entries and good decisions.

“That was kind of the message, you do the right things, and eventually you’ll get rewarded,” Yeo said.

Heatley declined to come out and talk to the press tonight.

-- Granlund continues to play well. One reason why Yeo can’t find a consistent right wing for the top line is because how can he break up the Niederreiter-Granlund-Pominville line right now.

Keith Ballard got the Granlund goal started with a headman pass that was deflected at center-ice by Granlund (may have been intentionally) to send Pominville into the zone. Cory Schneider stopped Pominville, but after Niederreiter tried to bank the rebound off Schneider, Niederreiter nudged the loose puck to Granlund, who slammed it into an open net.

“I point to where he scored the goal from and I look back to where he was a year ago, and I don’t think he would have been in that position,” Yeo said of Granlund. “He’s in the middle of the ice a lot more. He’s taken everything to heart that we’ve asked from him and he just continues to grow.”

-- Hopefully Charlie Coyle is indeed day-to-day, but if he did aggravate that knee injury, one would think he’d miss some time. I’d say doubtful for Tuesday with no practice Monday.

--On the Mitchell goal, Ryan Suter fed Parise to the left of Schneider, and the Wild vet put a soft slot at the net with bodies crashing. The puck ricocheted off Schneider, off Mitchell and then former Wild defenseman Marek Zidlicky and in.

There was a certain irony. Zidlicky, who demanded to be traded in 2012 because he felt handcuffed by Yeo, didn’t score a goal in 41 games during Yeo’s rookie season before being dealt to the Devils. In a way, it was Zidlicky’s first goal for Yeo.

No blog Monday unless there’s news. Talk to you Tuesday.


Philadelphia 24 FINAL
Washington 27
San Diego 38 FINAL
San Francisco 35
Minnesota 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Detroit 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12:00 PM
New England 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 3:25 PM
Seattle 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Phoenix 99 FINAL
New York 90
Portland 114 FINAL
New Orleans 88
Utah 86 FINAL
Charlotte 104
Atlanta 104 FINAL
Houston 97
San Antonio 93 FINAL
Dallas 99
Indiana 73 FINAL
Denver 76
Milwaukee 102 FINAL
LA Clippers 106
Arizona 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Colorado 5 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Philadelphia 7 FINAL
Toronto 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Montreal 4
Washington 4 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Tampa Bay 1 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Florida 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
NY Rangers 3 FINAL(SO)
Carolina 2
Chicago 2 FINAL(SO)
Columbus 3
Nashville 6 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 5
Calgary 2 FINAL(OT)
Vancouver 3
St. Louis 2 FINAL(OT)
San Jose 3
VA Commonwealth 68 FINAL
Cincinnati 47
Charlotte 78 FINAL
Georgetown 81
Michigan 51
Louisville 76 FINAL
Western Ky 67
Mount St Marys 45 FINAL
American Univ 46
Abilene Christian 33 FINAL
Boise State 77
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Duquesne 79
South Alabama 65 FINAL
Ohio State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 82
Massachusetts 65 FINAL
Providence 85
Syracuse 77 FINAL
Villanova 82
Citadel 61 FINAL
Virginia Tech 64
Belmont 73 FINAL
Fairfield 61
St Bonaventure 69 FINAL
Binghamton 51
Montreat 64 FINAL
Campbell 90
Delaware 74 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
South Florida 62 FINAL
Florida State 75
Vanderbilt 60 FINAL
Georgia Tech 65
SC State 71 FINAL
Houston 63
Missouri 59 FINAL
Illinois 62
Truett-McConnell 55 FINAL
Jacksonville 84
Toledo 83 FINAL
McNeese State 69
Elon 71 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 64
Drexel 68 FINAL
Penn State 73
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Rutgers 68
Albany 64 FINAL
Yale 60
PSU-Beaver 74 FINAL
Longwood 106
Eastern Ill 60 FINAL
Indiana State 56
Indiana 82 FINAL
Butler 73
Marshall 58 FINAL
Arkansas State 67
Lafayette 69 FINAL
Kansas 96
Oral Roberts 63 FINAL
Memphis 78
Western Mich 61 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Delaware State 70 FINAL
Oregon 83
Fla Atlantic 56 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
Arkansas Tech 57 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 94
Howard Payne 50 FINAL
Texas-Arlington 89
Kennesaw St 53
St Josephs (IN) 54 FINAL
Chicago State 76
Eastern Mich 77 FINAL
Missouri State 65
Kentucky 83
UC Davis 81 FINAL
Air Force 75
Houston Baptist 67 FINAL
UC Riverside 78
Davidson 80 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 68
USC Upstate 53 FINAL
Miss State 51
NC Central 94 FINAL
Miss Valley St 60
Illinois State 77 FINAL
Murray State 89
Louisiana 85 FINAL
Northwestern St 89
Oakland 77 FINAL
Pittsburgh 81
Detroit 55 FINAL
Rhode Island 69
Presbyterian 60 FINAL
UT Martin 77
Monmouth 74 FINAL
Wagner 66
Southern U 39 FINAL
Wyoming 57
Iowa State 83 FINAL
Drake 54
Wake Forest 50 FINAL
Florida 63
High Point 80 FINAL
James Madison 71
Texas Southern 71 FINAL
Michigan State 64
New Hampshire 60 FINAL
Sacred Heart 73
Northeastern 78 FINAL
Santa Clara 72
Huston-Tillotson 56 FINAL
Texas State 90
Purdue 63 FINAL
Notre Dame 94
Prairie View 44 FINAL
Sam Houston St 61
Xavier 88 FINAL
Auburn 89
Bluffton 53 FINAL
Akron 92
Central Conn St 76
Hofstra 77 FINAL
Columbia 82
Boston Univ 62 FINAL
Dayton 78
Iona 81 FINAL
George Mason 86
Valparaiso 75 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 72
Texas A&M 64 FINAL
Kansas State 71
Morgan State 69 FINAL
Manhattan 73
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Marist 58
East Carolina 54 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 66
Richmond 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 63
La Salle 67 FINAL
Towson 53
Incarnate Word 110 FINAL
UMKC 104
CS-Bakersfield 59 FINAL
Idaho State 50
Iowa 44 FINAL
Northern Iowa 56
Milwaukee 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 61
Long Beach State 68 FINAL
Texas 78
TX-San Antonio 57 FINAL
TCU 88
SE Missouri St 67 FINAL
Arkansas 84
Lehigh 84 FINAL
Arizona State 81
New Mexico 69 FINAL
New Mexico St 67
Oklahoma 67 FINAL
Washington 69
Utah Valley U 61 FINAL
Weber State 73
Jacksonville St 60 FINAL
Northern Colorado 69
St Edwards 55 FINAL
Grand Canyon 81
NC State 69 FINAL
West Virginia 83
CS-Northridge 68
Cal Poly 50 FINAL
Gonzaga 63
Fresno State 68 FINAL
Pacific 71
Montana State 60 FINAL
Portland 87
Ball State 57 FINAL
San Diego St 70
South Dakota St 68 FINAL
Utah State 65
Stanford 77 FINAL
BYU 79
Utah 59 FINAL
Nevada 3 FINAL
Louisiana 16
Utah State 21 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 6
(23) Utah 45 FINAL
Colorado State 10
Western Mich 24 FINAL
Air Force 38
South Alabama 28 FINAL
Bowling Green 33
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
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 3:00 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Livingstone 77 FINAL
UNC Greensboro 81
Loyola-Chicago 58 FINAL
Dartmouth 70
Georgia Tech 65 FINAL
St Francis-NY 59
Auburn 49 FINAL
St Johns 56
East Tenn St 56 FINAL
Jacksonville St 57
Western Mich 71 FINAL
Detroit 57
Cal-Irvine 42 FINAL
Wright State 80
Gardner-Webb 47 FINAL
Kennesaw St 50
(7) Stanford 40 FINAL
(11) Tennessee 59
Alabama A&M 47 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Central Michigan 45 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 80
Nebraska Omaha 50 FINAL
Creighton 67
Western Carolina 83
Houston 65 FINAL
Nicholls 47
St Thomas Aquinas 45 FINAL
Army 70
St Bonaventure 72 FINAL
Niagara 60
Texas State 57 FINAL
Stetson 75
George Mason 65 FINAL
ULM 53
Grambling 38 FINAL
Kansas State 61
Missouri 79 FINAL
Wake Forest 64
Robert Morris 59 FINAL
Cornell 70
Air Force 44 FINAL
Abilene Christian 80
Hampton 53 FINAL
James Madison 85
American Univ 64 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 52
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 68
Tenn Tech 49 FINAL
NC A&T 54
Presbyterian 45 FINAL
NC Central 33
Penn 58 FINAL
Drexel 67
Lipscomb 38 FINAL
Xavier 62
Vermont 40 FINAL
Green Bay 60
Charleston Southern 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 80
Ohio Christian 62 FINAL
Akron 97
Jacksonville 62 FINAL
Murray State 80
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Iona 58
Indiana 88 FINAL
Oakland 61
Indiana State 64 FINAL
SMU 55
Denver 51 FINAL
Purdue 65
TX-San Antonio 48 FINAL
Texas Tech 64
Middle Tennessee 79
Campbell 66 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 55
Florida A&M 67 FINAL
SE Louisiana 69
Northwestern St 61 FINAL
Jackson State 62
Lehigh 61 FINAL
Arizona State 81
Valparaiso 65 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 77
Liberty 60 FINAL
Minnesota 74
Wofford 60 FINAL
North Florida 68
Montana State 61 FINAL
Washington St 82
Marshall 56 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 69
Morgan State 40 FINAL
Chattanooga 55
Northeastern 65 FINAL
Harvard 67
Furman 51 FINAL
(15) Georgia 58
(18) Michigan State 65 FINAL
(9) Baylor 84
Ohio U 52 FINAL
Massachusetts 59
Prairie View 48 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 86
Toledo 64 FINAL
Southern Ill 48
High Point 57 FINAL
(12) Nebraska 83
Winthrop 20 FINAL
Wichita State 66
William Jewell 59 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 52 FINAL
Utah 67
Southern Utah 51 FINAL
Gonzaga 70
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 76
San Jose St 62 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Northridge 65 FINAL
San Diego State 54
Norfolk State 36 FINAL
East Carolina 65
Saint Peters 49 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 59
Arizona 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 72
Northwestern 92 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 44
Oral Roberts 52 FINAL
Wisconsin 70
Florida Atlantic 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 57
La Salle 76 FINAL
Georgia State 68
(16) Oregon State 73 FINAL
Nevada 50
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
Villanova 49
Delaware 59 FINAL
Cincinnati 67
Troy 75 FINAL
Tennessee St 71
Saint Louis 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 66
Washington 74 FINAL
UC-Riverside 71
Pacific 43 FINAL
Long Beach St 53
Old Dominion 69 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Austin Peay 62 FINAL
Montana 83
Lewis-Clark State 48 FINAL
Idaho 74
(21) Miss State 73 FINAL
Illinois-Chicago 36
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