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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Yucky performance, effort by the Wild against the Ottawa Senators

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: January 14, 2014 - 11:20 PM

Yuck.

It was bad enough having to write about this game for the paper, so I don’t know how much more I want to spend on it here.

3-nothing loss by the Wild. Just a poorly-played game from start to finish.

The team was flat, executed badly, from losing puck battles and races to having by far its worst passing performances in weeks. Passes were either ahead of guys or behind them much of the night.

Darcy Kuemper did an admirable job keeping the Wild in its for awhile, but the dagger came 5:55 into the third with the Wild actually pressuring. Marco Scandella broke his stick on a shot and Erik Condra made it 2-0 on a breakaway.

The Wild showed signs of frustration all night. It’s hard to tell totally on replay because you can’t see where Kyle Turris has the puck, but the team felt Clarke MacArthur was offside on Ottawa’s first goal. There were a few missed calls, like Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle being tripped and Ryan Suter being high-sticked right in front of one of the refs a shift before Condra made it 2-0.

But coach Mike Yeo said, “When you’re more engaged in the game, when you’re on top of your game, things like that don’t beat you.”

The Wild hasn’t had a practice since last Wednesday because of mandatory CBA days off and also because of the travel to and from Phoenix on Monday and the travel to and from Nashville. The team looked like a team that was tired and didn’t practice a lot tonight, although Yeo said it was no excuse and it needs to use Wednesday’s practice “efficiently” before Edmonton comes to town.

The bad thing tonight is 9th-place Phoenix lost, so the 8th-place Wild could have gained a six-point cushion on the Coyotes, who still have three games in hand. Dallas, in 10th, won.

The Wild suddenly has flipped the script and has won three in a row on the road but has lost four of six at home.

That’s got to change.

“We need points,” Jason Pominville said. “We have to find ways, whether we practice or we don’t. It’s up to everyone to dig deeper and find a way to get yourself going.

“You’ve got to be good at home. For the most part this year, we have. But if you want to be a team that climbs in the standings and a team that’s tough to play against, you have to be better than what we were at home. Tonight just wasn’t good enough.

“We had an opportunity to create a little distance and create that separation a little bit. It’s unfortunate we didn’t come out with the effort.”

Guess what? That’s it. This blog is yucky like tonight’s game. Wild needs to turn the page at practice Wednesday.

I’ll be filling in for Paul Allen on KFAN from 9-noon Wednesday. I’ll have Darcy Kuemper as a guest at 9:55, Mike Florio, Lavelle E. Neal The Third, Marney Gellner and others.

Kent Youngblood is covering practice because I’m grabbing lunch with a player afterward for a weekend feature. So Kent will be on here to blog afterward.

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