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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Darcy Kuemper earns fourth consecutive start Saturday vs. Dallas

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: January 17, 2014 - 3:11 PM

Darcy Kuemper, who is 3-1 with a 1.23 goals-against average, .957 save percentage and one shutout in four starts since Jan. 7, will make his fourth consecutive start in the first of a home-and-home against the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.

The 8 p.m. game will cap Hockey Day Minnesota – a celebration of hockey in Minnesota that is highlighted by a full day’s worth of coverage on Fox Sports North. Elk River, hometown of Wild defenseman and Thursday night hero Nate Prosser, is the host city and for a directory of Saturday’s coverage, go back a couple blogs.

I’ll be on Fox Sports North around 12:55 p.m. Saturday.

The Wild practiced at St. Thomas Academy this morning. Kuemper didn’t practice. The team gave him what GM Chuck Fletcher termed a “rest day.” Same thing for defenseman Ryan Suter, who plays more minutes than any NHL skater.

By Kuemper not practicing, that allowed Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding to each get a cage for the entire practice.

“Those guys need that,” coach Mike Yeo said. “It’s always tough rotating three goalies in a practice.”

I thought both goalies looked great today. The key for Harding particularly because he has missed so much time is to get some more reps so he can get back to form, which shouldn't be an issue because he's so mechanically-sound.

Looks like Yeo will come back with the same lineup against the Stars. As much hoopla as the Mikael Granlund and Charlie Coyle lines have been getting the past week or so, Yeo is also real happy with the Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Justin Fontaine line lately.

The line has been pretty much a plus line every game of late, playing physically, shutting down opponents and getting loads of scoring chances. They scored a huge goal last night after Cooke nailed Nail Yakupov, and then casually found the puck and triggered a 3-on-2 that Fontaine finished with his 12th goal off a nice drive to the net by Brodziak.

Yeo also praised the job Cooke and Brodziak are doing on the penalty kill.

Except for the one goal against by Jordan Eberle, Yeo said he was happy with the Keith Ballard-Clayton Stoner pairing.

Eberle scored on a 2-on-1 after Ballard missed the net and the left-shot Stoner, playing the right side, made a bad pinch up the wall. But Yeo noted a big issue was the F3, Stephane Veilleux, was incorrectly positioned and then didn’t make a quick enough read when Stoner went up the wall.

But Yeo said Ballard and Stoner recovered well and “played a strong game from there. … Ultimately I thought they helped us move the puck, I thought they defended well.”

On Kuemper, Yeo said, “I’m just trying to stay even-keeled with that. It’s our job to make sure we’re doing everything we can to continue to help him feel confident, but at the same time, we have to make sure he stays grounded and stays focused on why he’s playing well.”

Yeo said it’s not unlike how the coaches try to help each of the Wild’s eight 23-and-under players “reset” their focus every game so they bring consistency. That’s always the big concern with kids, and we’ve seen it a lot lately. Sometimes they look awesome (vs. Nashville, Phoenix), sometimes they look like they’re just going with the flow (vs. Ottawa). The Wild is trying to help them find consistency so there’s not so much variance in performances night after night.

Big stretch of games coming up for the Wild as it has a home-and-home with Dallas (plays in Dallas on Tuesday), a home game with Chicago, who’s an OK team, Thursday, and then a big road trip to San Jose and Anaheim (Cali’s 3 teams are 52-8-8 for a .824 points percentage this season at home), Colorado and Calgary.

The South Stars have followed the Wild’s tough stretch in late December with a similarly hellacious stretch in January. They are 1-7 this month to slip to 10th in the West. They are eight points behind Minnesota with three games in hand.

“Things haven’t gone well for them, but I’ve watched their games, and they’re playing very hard, they’re playing well, so we have to be ready to go because I’m expecting a very motivated and hungry team,” Yeo said.

Zach Parise practiced again in a yellow no-contact jersey. He looks awesome.

Asked when Parise can start getting into contact and more game-like situations, Yeo said, “That’s up to everybody else to tell me. He is flying. Everything looks good, his skating looks good, his hands look good, and obviously [contact] is the next step. Just waiting for that.”

Erik Haula and Ballard are planning to go to the Hockey City Classic tonight.

Yeo isn’t because, he joked, his son didn’t invite him.

I’m looking forward to taking in that game, too. That’s it for me. Talk to you Saturday.


Denver 7:30 PM
Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Carolina 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Green Bay
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Denver 6:00 PM
Portland 7:00 PM
Utah 7:00 PM
Toronto 7:00 PM
Atlanta 7:30 PM
LA Clippers 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Sacramento 9:30 PM
Golden State
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Nashville 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 6:30 PM
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Calgary 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ark-Little Rock 64 FINAL
Bradley 54
Brown 67 FINAL
Central Conn St 55
Stetson 59 FINAL
Florida State 63
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
Northwestern 63
Ohio 49 FINAL
George Washington 77
Southern Utah 61 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 70
Elon 67 FINAL
Kennesaw St 65
Dartmouth 49 FINAL
Penn State 69
Green Bay 70 FINAL
UC Irvine 72
DePaul 58 2nd Half 3:51
Colorado 76
Lewis & Clark 39 2nd Half 6:04
Portland 67
SC State 30 2nd Half
Abilene Christian 23
Manhattan 22 1st Half 5:56
Fordham 21
Truett-McConnell 16 1st Half 7:10
Ga Southern 27
Citadel 22 1st Half 6:49
Michigan State 23
Miami-Ohio 14 1st Half 5:43
Ohio State 34
Gardner-Webb 22 1st Half 7:17
Purdue 29
Idaho 18 1st Half 7:57
Northern Ky 20
Fairfield 6:00 PM
North Dakota St 6:00 PM
Alcorn State
UT Martin 6:00 PM
SE Louisiana 6:00 PM
Oakland 6:00 PM
Florida A&M 6:00 PM
East Carolina
Eastern Ky 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
IUPU-Ft Wayne 6:00 PM
Illinois State
Norfolk State 6:00 PM
James Madison
Binghamton 6:00 PM
Mount St Marys
Towson 6:00 PM
Long Island 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Northern Ill 6:00 PM
Notre Dame
William & Mary 6:00 PM
Old Dominion
Liberty 6:00 PM
Delaware 6:00 PM
Robert Morris
MD-Eastern Shore 6:00 PM
St Bonaventure
Colgate 6:00 PM
Kansas 6:00 PM
Mercer 6:00 PM
East Tenn St 6:00 PM
VA Commonwealth
Va Military 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Bucknell 6:00 PM
Wake Forest
Alabama A&M 6:00 PM
Western Mich
New Orleans 6:05 PM
Columbia 6:30 PM
Long Beach State 6:30 PM
St Johns
Wofford 6:30 PM
West Virginia
Southern U 7:00 PM
UAB 7:00 PM
Char Southern 7:00 PM
Colorado State
North Florida 7:00 PM
NC Central 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Rice 7:00 PM
Central Mich 7:00 PM
McNeese State
Coppin State 7:00 PM
Furman 7:00 PM
SE Missouri St 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Weber State 7:00 PM
Grambling St 7:00 PM
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
Penn 7:00 PM
Chicago State 7:00 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Simpson 7:05 PM
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
Murray State 7:05 PM
Southern Ill
Oral Roberts 7:05 PM
Missouri State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Air Force
Milwaukee 8:00 PM
Wisconsin 8:00 PM
Coll of Charleston 8:00 PM
North Dakota 8:00 PM
Northern New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
UC Santa Barbara 8:00 PM
Miami-Florida 8:00 PM
Northeastern 8:00 PM
St Marys-CA
Kent State 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
UC Davis 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
Lewis-Clark State 8:05 PM
Eastern Wash
Walla Walla 8:05 PM
Portland State
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Marshall 9:00 PM
Boise State 9:30 PM
UC Riverside 10:00 PM
San Diego St
Tulane 10:00 PM
Loyola Marymount 10:00 PM
Wichita State
Nebraska 12/23/14 12:00 AM
Memphis 55
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
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
Holy Cross 78
Temple 59 FINAL
Villanova 64
Georgia Southern 68 FINAL
Southern U 52
Xavier 60 FINAL
Kennesaw St 61
Eastern Michigan 52 FINAL
Michigan 81
Brescia 56 FINAL
Marshall 127
(21) West Virginia 54 FINAL
Ohio State 96
MD-Eastern Shore 78
Cornell 79 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 61
St Bonaventure 70 FINAL
Georgetown 64
New Hampshire 63 FINAL
Northeastern 62
Eastern Washington 67 FINAL
Florida 56
Rice 63 FINAL
Texas Southern 69
Butler 72 FINAL
Illinois State 60
UC Davis 53 2nd Half 3:15
(16) Stanford 65
Washington St 73 2nd Half 5:49
Loyola Marymount 46
Sacramento St 65 2nd Half 11:21
San Jose St 68
SIU-Edwardsville 34 2nd Half
Oakland 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Belmont 6:00 PM
(14) Georgia
George Mason 6:00 PM
Kansas 6:05 PM
Abilene Christian 7:00 PM
Kansas State
UT Martin 7:00 PM
Hampton 7:00 PM
Florida State 7:00 PM
Murray State 7:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast 7:05 PM
Arkansas State
BYU 8:00 PM
Utah State
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