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.

Also find Russo on Facebook.

Email Michael to talk about hockey.

Wild preps for tonight's big test against Anaheim

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild pregame skate Updated: December 11, 2013 - 3:02 PM

Afternoon from beautiful Southern California, where it’s sunny with a slight chill in the air.  

I’m thinking of putting on a wind breaker.

Wild vs. the red-hot Ducks tonight. Anaheim is 11-0-2 at home.

The Wild had a good, crisp skate this morning, but who knows what that means.

“We recognize the importance of this game and getting this road trip started off the right way,” coach Mike Yeo said. “I feel good that our guys are going to be ready to battle hard tonight.”

The Wild has lost three in a row on the road, having been shut out in two. The Wild has allowed the first goal in six consecutive road games.

“Start the game on time,” Yeo said of what he wants tonight. “And that means your battle level, being ready to skate, being ready to work, having the mindset that we want to get to our game and how you do that. That’s executing the right way, playing a certain way with the puck that helps us get to our game and hurts them getting to theirs.”

Josh Harding vs. Jonas Hiller tonight.

The Wild lines are what I indicated in today’s newspaper, meaning Jason Zucker to the second line with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter and Dany Heatley to the fourth line with Zenon Konopka and Justin Fontaine. Mike Rupp and Nate Prosser are the lone healthy scratches as Matt Dumba, who had been away from the team for family reasons, was officially assigned to Team Canada today.

That means the Wild’s roster now stands at 22 players and the Wild loses Dumba’s cap hit for at least until it makes the decision to bring him back or not.

I talked with Saku Koivu today about his little bro. Last month I wrote a story about how Team Finland says either Mikko Koivu or Saku Koivu will be Finland’s captain in February’s Winter Olympics. Mikko endorses Saku. Today, basically, Saku endorsed Mikko.

It’s just your good old-fashioned brotherly fight. It’s amazing talking to Saku because despite being way, way older than Mikko (39 vs. 30), the mannerisms and facial expressions between the two are almost identical.

Teemu Selanne also says it’s Mikko’s time and Mikko’s team.

I’ll write more about the Koivus in Thursday’s paper.

Speaking of the ageless wonder and future Hall of Famer who still swears this year’s his swan song, Selanne says the Ducks, “There’s no weaknesses. Right now we’re just playing with a lot of confidence, and even with a lot of injuries. Even last year, all the success we had was using our depth. We have a lot of depth on our team. Everybody’s doing their job. That’s what it takes. You always reminded that you’re only as good as your weakest link and we don’t really have weak links right now. That’s a good sign, but there’s still levels we can reach. We want to keep pushing ourselves.”

I’ll also have some Selanne gold on teammate Corey Perry either Thursday or Sunday. Remember, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher was in Anaheim’s front office when the Ducks traded two seconds to Dallas to get an extra first to take Perry in 2003 at 28th overall. Same draft the Ducks drafted Ryan Getzlaf. Completely transformed this franchise.

I’ll also have some stuff on Kyle Brodziak in Thursday. He plays his 500th game tonight and coach Mike Yeo is very happy with Brodziak’s season after a down year last year. Obviously, Brodziak’s not scoring goals (20 games without one; and if you expect him to score goals, you're always going to be disappointed), but he’s been on a third line that has been solid all year defensively. Remember, there was a stretch where Brodziak and Cooke were on the ice for two goals against at even-strength in a 12-game stretch.

I’ll be on KFAN at 4:15 p.m. CT.

  • 4
  • Comments

ADVERTISEMENT

Kansas City - LP: B. Chen 1 FINAL
Cleveland - WP: C. Kluber 5
Cincinnati - WP: T. Cingrani 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: B. Cumpton 1
Chicago WSox - LP: J. Quintana 4 FINAL
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 7
St. Louis - LP: L. Lynn 1 FINAL
NY Mets - WP: B. Colon 4
Minnesota - WP: R. Nolasco 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay - LP: E. Bedard 7
Arizona - WP: M. Bolsinger 5 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: E. Jackson 2
San Diego - WP: A. Torres 4 FINAL
Washington - LP: C. Stammen 3
Baltimore - WP: B. Norris 11 FINAL
Toronto - LP: B. Cecil 4
NY Yankees - WP: C. Sabathia 14 FINAL
Boston - LP: F. Doubront 5
Oakland - WP: S. Kazmir 10 FINAL
Houston - LP: B. Oberholtzer 1
Philadelphia - WP: M. Adams 7 FINAL
Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 3
Indiana 85 FINAL
Atlanta 98
Oklahoma City 95 FINAL
Memphis 98
LA Clippers 98 FINAL
Golden State 96
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Colorado 1 FINAL
Minnesota 2
San Jose 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should Wild's Matt Cooke be suspended for his Game 3 kneeing hit?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT