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: Was Wild's response to Nazem Kadri's hits appropriate?

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: November 14, 2013 - 8:03 AM

Update: Kadri has a noon CT hearing today for steamrolling Niklas Backstrom. This has two games written all over it. The league is not further disciplining him on Granlund hit.

The Wild improved to 5-0-1 in its past six and 8-1-2 in its past 11 by rallying for a 2-1 shootout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight.

As always, please read the game story for all the good, but Zach Parise tied the game with 4:17 left before Parise and Jason Pominville scored in the shootout to lift Minnesota to a game it pretty unarguably deserved to win.

Other than its power play continually failing them, the Wild severely outchanced Toronto. Jonathan Bernier was great as usual against the Wild (eight goals allowed in 434 minutes against Minnesota) and the Maple Leafs’ defenders continually got sticks in the Wild’s way to knock chances out of harm’s way.

The big story of the way was menace Nazem Kadri, the 2009 seventh overall pick. He knocked Niklas Backstrom out of the game 10 ½ minutes in by not only barreling him over, but giving him a forearm shiver to the head.

Backstrom sustained an “upper-body” injury, which means he’ll need to see an “upper-body” specialist for an “upper-body” baseline test. Later, Kadri, who was running around all game with no Wild players challenging him (he once hog-tied Nino Niederreiter and sent him to the ice, creamed Mikael Granlund for a match penalty hit to the head.

The one on Backstrom I think will be really scrutinized by the league (as all the Wild players said, it's the type of blow to the head the league wants to rid), especially if the NHL sees the hit on Granlund the way Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle saw it: “It’s beyond me the five-minute major. I just looked at it. He made initial contact with the shoulder and the kid had the head down. (Kadri) didn’t have his arms up and he ran into the player and Granlund snapped his head back. Obviously the referee’s saw it differently and obviously when it’s a five-minute match penalty it’ll be reviewed.”

Kadri wasn’t made available. Josh Harding came in and made 19 saves to improve to 10-2-2.

The big story of the game though was Toronto creating havoc, taking runs at guys (Marco Scandella, Granlund, Jared Spurgeon, Niederreiter obviously Backstrom) and the Wild not doing the same. Now, the Wild could have made Toronto pay if its power play wasn’t, as Yeo admitted, “out of sorts.” Also, because the Wild was trying to rally, Zenon Konopka only played seven shifts. Also, Mike Rupp’s in Iowa on a rehab stint.

But maybe the lack of response did show that the Wild may need to spot Rupp in against some of the more aggressive teams in the NHL. As of now, if the Wild’s healthy up front, it’ll be hard for Rupp to get games. But there may be times where Yeo may need to consider him.

Yeo said, “Do we match up against that team's toughness? No, we don’t. If we want to start trading off, we go after Kadri, next thing you know, what are they going to go after? They’re going to go after our guys too and again we don’t match up in that toughness department against them. Now we do have a team that cares about each other very much, and we stick up for each other, trust me. You saw Brodzy (Kyle Brodziak) getting in there for Nino and you saw guys competing and battling and trying to have that team toughness. Between the whistles and the way we fought through this game and found a way to win, that’s a message too to your teammates.”

The Wild just aren’t built like Toronto, so while there may be times where the Wild may be exposed for what even Yeo admits is a lack of toughness, I’m not overly concerned this is a huge problem yet. Some fans were tweeting me incessantly that the Wild are “soft.” The reality is, this is the first time all season a team came in intent on trying to push the Wild around, and the end result?

The Wild completely outplayed that team and ended up taking two points. At the end of the day, this alleged soft team has gotten points in 10 of the last 11 games and the last six. So this is not as big a deal yet as I think these fans are making it out to be.

The power play was an issue tonight. I’m not a big fan of Jason Pominville in the slot, although on the major, he nearly scored from that area. I just like his booming shot from the point. I think he’s more effective there. I also love the chemistry with Coyle on the top line with Parise and Mikko Koivu, so to me, keep that going and if you want a right-shot on the second unit, toss Justin Fontaine in the middle or use Jared Spurgeon there. I also don’t like the No. 2 unit without Niederreiter. But the past few power plays tonight, Yeo went with a second unit of Granlund, Coyle, Heatley, Brodin and Scandella.

Yeo said the Wild obviously has to look at the power play.

I thought the Wild’s D played real well again tonight. Under the radar has been Spurgeon. He has kind of been overshadowed by Ryan Suter’s 108 minutes the past three games (most ice time in a three-game stretch since ice time started to be tracked in 2000 (according to Elias) and Marco Scandella’s rising game. But Spurgeon’s been good in every zone.

Harding, sick last night, came in cold and again was solid, especially late in overtime. Just a good two points, and the Wild needed a puck off two skates to beat Jonathan Bernier (33 saves).

Yeo gave some good kudos tonight to Brodziak, Matt Cooke and Justin Fontaine, who went up a lot against Phil Kessel’s line and also helped create momentum after the failed five-minute major before Parise’s equalizer. Wild could have won in regulation if not for Bernier. After Parise’s goal, it was all Wild.

“Bernier was lights out. It was one of the better goaltending performances I’ve seen this year,” Harding said.

Talk to you Thursday after practice. Check out my Charlie Coyle notebook and my Wild Minute with actor Erik Stolhanske.


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Dallas 6:00 PM
Sacramento 6:00 PM
Toronto 6:00 PM
Houston 6:30 PM
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
Cleveland 7:00 PM
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Portland 7:30 PM
LA Clippers 8:00 PM
San Antonio
Charlotte 8:00 PM
Phoenix 9:30 PM
Golden State
Washington 0 1st Prd 12:01
Montreal 0
NY Islanders 1:00 PM
Arizona 2:00 PM
Los Angeles 6:00 PM
Florida 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Carolina 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Toronto 6:00 PM
Dallas 6:00 PM
Columbus 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Edmonton 9:00 PM
Chicago 9:30 PM
San Jose
Boston College 22 2nd Half 14:13
Clemson 43
Western Mich 38 2nd Half 14:42
Eastern Mich 40
NC State 45 2nd Half 14:01
Georgia Tech 42
Wisconsin 53 2nd Half 9:44
Iowa 45
Stony Brook 33 2nd Half 11:00
New Hampshire 47
Notre Dame 53 2nd Half 12:07
Pittsburgh 52
Providence 40 2nd Half 16:34
St Johns 51
Davidson 41 2nd Half 17:30
Saint Josephs 37
Xavier 45 2nd Half 15:20
Seton Hall 47
Tulane 20 2nd Half 12:47
Temple 35
Auburn 31 2nd Half 17:53
Tennessee 35
Texas Tech 31 2nd Half
West Virginia 37
Arkansas 9 1st Half 13:53
Florida 9
Penn State 5 1st Half 15:22
Illinois 13
Lipscomb 8 1st Half 14:55
Stetson 10
South Florida 9 1st Half 14:05
Tulsa 5
Bradley 2 1st Half 15:34
Indiana State 4
UMass Lowell 1:00 PM
Green Bay 1:00 PM
Cleveland State
Georgetown 1:00 PM
Coll of Charleston 1:00 PM
Villanova 1:00 PM
Arkansas State 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Vermont 1:00 PM
TCU 1:00 PM
Iowa State
Kennesaw St 1:00 PM
Kansas State 1:00 PM
Boston Univ 1:00 PM
Illinois State 1:00 PM
Albany 1:00 PM
Butler 1:00 PM
LSU 1:00 PM
Miss State
Mount St Marys 1:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Richmond 1:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Virginia Tech 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
IUPU-Ft Wayne 1:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha
Loyola-Maryland 2:00 PM
Tenn Tech 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman 2:00 PM
Florida A&M
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
UAB 2:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Idaho State 2:00 PM
North Dakota
Evansville 2:05 PM
Rutgers 2:15 PM
Ball State 2:30 PM
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
UNC-Wilmington 3:00 PM
Coastal Carolina 3:00 PM
Morgan State 3:00 PM
William & Mary 3:00 PM
James Madison
North Carolina 3:00 PM
Coppin State 3:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Ole Miss 3:00 PM
Wichita State 3:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Loyola Marymount 3:00 PM
Winthrop 3:00 PM
George Washington 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Bryant 3:00 PM
Robert Morris
Long Island 3:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Fair-Dickinson 3:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Massachusetts 3:00 PM
Saint Louis
Georgia 3:00 PM
South Carolina
Central Conn St 3:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville 3:15 PM
Eastern Ill
Ohio 3:30 PM
Central Mich
Eastern Ky 3:30 PM
Morehead State
Incarnate Word 3:30 PM
Campbell 3:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:30 PM
Texas A&M
South Alabama 4:00 PM
Western Carolina 4:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Detroit 4:00 PM
Idaho 4:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Marshall 4:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Jackson State 4:30 PM
Miss Valley St
Houston Baptist 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Louisiana 4:30 PM
Texas State
Denver 4:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 4:30 PM
South Dakota
Texas 5:00 PM
Citadel 5:00 PM
Fresno State 5:00 PM
Colorado State
Yale 5:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff 5:00 PM
Grambling St
Nebraska 5:00 PM
Hampton 5:00 PM
Norfolk State
Purdue 5:00 PM
Alabama A&M 5:00 PM
Prairie View
Dartmouth 5:00 PM
Pepperdine 5:00 PM
St Marys-CA
NC A&T 5:00 PM
Savannah State
Delaware State 5:00 PM
SC State
Western Ky 5:00 PM
Southern Miss
Nevada 5:00 PM
Akron 6:00 PM
Bowling Green
Colgate 6:00 PM
FIU 6:00 PM
Brown 6:00 PM
George Mason 6:00 PM
NC Central 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Saint Peters 6:00 PM
Alabama 6:00 PM
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Char Southern 6:00 PM
Hawaii 6:00 PM
Long Beach State
New Orleans 6:00 PM
McNeese State
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Elon 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Harvard 6:00 PM
La Salle 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Furman 6:00 PM
TX A&M-CC 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Duke 6:00 PM
Mercer 6:00 PM
Northern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
North Florida
Longwood 6:00 PM
Ark-Little Rock 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
CS-Northridge 7:00 PM
UC Riverside
Towson 7:00 PM
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Murray State
San Jose St 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Rice 7:00 PM
North Texas
Toledo 7:00 PM
Northern Ill
Oklahoma 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
San Francisco 7:00 PM
San Diego
Utah State 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Northwestern St 7:00 PM
SE Louisiana
UCF 7:00 PM
Southern Ill 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Troy 7:15 PM
Jacksonville St 7:30 PM
Tennessee St
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Stanford 7:30 PM
Washington St
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
TX-Pan American 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Northern Ariz 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Middle Tennessee 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Weber State 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Chicago State 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
UC Santa Barbara 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
Memphis 9:00 PM
Air Force 9:00 PM
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Seattle 9:00 PM
Montana State 9:05 PM
Portland State
Montana 9:05 PM
Sacramento St
Colorado 9:30 PM
UMKC 9:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Mount St Marys 60 2nd Half 1:04
Sacred Heart 61
Texas-El Paso 24 2nd Half
Middle Tennessee 32
Arkansas State 34 2nd Half
Georgia State 24
Central Conn St 12:00 PM
Fairleigh Dickinson 12:00 PM
St Francis-PA
Bethune-Cookman 12:00 PM
Florida A&M
Charleston Southern 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 12:00 PM
Western Mich 12:00 PM
Bryant 0 1st Half 20:00
Robert Morris 0
Long Island 0 1st Half 20:00
St Francis-NY 0
Longwood 0 1st Half 20:00
Campbell 0
Ohio U 18 1st Half
Central Michigan 13
Coppin State 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Incarnate Word 1:00 PM
Samford 1:00 PM
East Tenn St
Western Carolina 1:00 PM
UNC Greensboro 1:00 PM
Gardner-Webb 1:00 PM
Coastal Carolina
Liberty 1:00 PM
High Point
Morgan State 1:00 PM
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
Kent State 1:00 PM
Northern Ill 1:00 PM
Ball State
Houston 1:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville 1:00 PM
Eastern Illinois
Eastern Kentucky 1:00 PM
Morehead St
Holy Cross 1:00 PM
American Univ
Army 1:00 PM
Niagara 1:00 PM
Lehigh 1:00 PM
Boston U
Navy 1:00 PM
Saint Josephs 1:00 PM
Duquesne 1:00 PM
George Washington 1:00 PM
George Mason
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Milwaukee 1:00 PM
Youngstown St
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Kennesaw St
North Florida 1:00 PM
USC Upstate
Buffalo 1:30 PM
Eastern Michigan
St Marys-CA 2:00 PM
Nebraska Omaha 2:00 PM
Houston Baptist 2:00 PM
Sam Houston St
Mercer 2:00 PM
(25) Chattanooga
No Dakota State 2:00 PM
South Dakota St
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
South Dakota
Southern Miss 2:00 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
East Carolina 2:00 PM
South Florida 2:00 PM
New Mexico St 2:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Utah Valley U 2:00 PM
Jackson State 2:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Louisiana 2:00 PM
Texas State
South Alabama 2:00 PM
Saint Louis 2:00 PM
Cleveland State 2:00 PM
Grand Canyon 2:05 PM
Chicago State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Washington St 2:30 PM
(12) Stanford
Kansas State 3:00 PM
Texas Tech
UNLV 3:00 PM
Air Force
UCF 3:00 PM
Delaware State 3:00 PM
SC State
San Diego State 3:00 PM
Utah State
Sacramento St 3:00 PM
Portland State 3:00 PM
Montana State
Northern Colorado 3:00 PM
Weber State
Hampton 3:00 PM
Norfolk State
NC A&T 3:00 PM
Savannah State
Alabama A&M 3:00 PM
Prairie View
Toledo 3:00 PM
Bowling Green
Ark-Pine Bluff 3:00 PM
Southern U 3:00 PM
Alcorn State
Marist 3:00 PM
Bucknell 3:00 PM
North Dakota 3:00 PM
Idaho State
Ark-Little Rock 3:30 PM
Georgia Southern
BYU 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Gonzaga 4:00 PM
Pacific 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
Abilene Christian 4:00 PM
Colorado State 4:00 PM
Fresno State
New Mexico 4:00 PM
San Jose St
UC Davis 4:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
San Diego 4:00 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 4:00 PM
McNeese State
TX A&M-CC 4:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Old Dominion 4:00 PM
Florida Atlantic
Tenn Tech 4:00 PM
Eastern Washington 4:00 PM
Stetson 4:00 PM
Washington 4:30 PM
USC 4:30 PM
(7) Oregon State
IUPU-Ft Wayne 4:30 PM
Western Ill
Northwestern St 4:30 PM
SE Louisiana
SE Missouri St 4:30 PM
Austin Peay
Columbia 5:00 PM
Charlotte 5:00 PM
(19) Princeton 5:00 PM
Penn 5:00 PM
UT Martin 5:00 PM
Murray State
Troy 5:00 PM
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Jacksonville St 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Oklahoma St 6:00 PM
Iowa State
CS-Bakersfield 6:00 PM
La Salle 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Cal-Irvine 6:00 PM
Cal Poly
Fla Gulf Coast 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
Southern Utah 7:00 PM
Northern Ariz
Green Bay 7:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
Long Beach St
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
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