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.


Los Angeles - LP: B. Wilson 7 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - WP: J. Grimm 8
Detroit - WP: M. Scherzer 3 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: J. Shields 2
Philadelphia - WP: J. Williams 3 FINAL
Oakland - LP: D. Otero 0
Toronto - WP: M. Stroman 6 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: C. Capuano 3
Arizona - LP: T. Cahill 1 FINAL
Colorado - WP: E. Butler 5
Boston - LP: R. De La Rosa 2 FINAL
Baltimore - WP: C. Tillman 7
Milwaukee - WP: Z. Duke 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: M. Melancon 0
Washington - WP: J. Zimmermann 3 FINAL
Miami - LP: J. Cosart 2
NY Mets - WP: J. Niese 4 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: M. Minor 2
Chicago WSox - LP: H. Noesi 1 FINAL
Tampa Bay - WP: C. Archer 3
Cleveland - WP: T. House 7 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: T. May 3
Seattle - LP: C. Young 1 FINAL
Houston - WP: D. Keuchel 10
Cincinnati - LP: M. Leake 4 FINAL
St. Louis - WP: J. Motte 8
San Francisco - LP: Y. Petit 2 FINAL
San Diego - WP: A. Cashner 3
Texas - LP: C. Lewis 5 FINAL
LA Angels - WP: J. Weaver 8
San Diego 12:00 PM
Dallas 12:00 PM
St. Louis
Washington 12:00 PM
Houston 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Minnesota 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Tennessee 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12:00 PM
Green Bay 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12:00 PM
Oakland 12:00 PM
New England
San Francisco 3:05 PM
Denver 3:25 PM
Kansas City 3:25 PM
Pittsburgh 7:30 PM
Chicago 9/22/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Connecticut 14 FINAL
So Florida 17
Old Dominion 45 FINAL
Rice 42
Troy 0 FINAL
(13) Georgia 66
Georgia Tech 27 FINAL
Virginia Tech 24
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
(11) Michigan State 73
Iowa 24 FINAL
Pittsburgh 20
Bowling Green 17 FINAL
(19) Wisconsin 68
Maryland 34 FINAL
Syracuse 20
Tulane 13 FINAL
Duke 47
Hawaii 12 FINAL
Colorado 21
Marshall 48 FINAL
Akron 17
North Carolina 41 FINAL
East Carolina 70
Army 21 FINAL
Wake Forest 24
Virginia 33 FINAL
(21) BYU 41
(6) Texas A&M 58 FINAL
Rutgers 31 FINAL
Navy 24
Central Mich 10 FINAL
Kansas 24
Utah 26 FINAL
Michigan 10
Florida 21 FINAL
(3) Alabama 42
Louisville 34 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 19 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Indiana 31 FINAL
(18) Missouri 27
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Minnesota 24
Texas State 35 FINAL
Illinois 42
Massachusetts 7 FINAL
Penn State 48
Georgia State 14 FINAL
Washington 45
Appalachian St 20 FINAL
Southern Miss 21
Miss State 34 FINAL
(8) LSU 29
Northern Ill 14 FINAL
Arkansas 52
Middle Tennessee 17 FINAL
Memphis 36
Utah State 14 FINAL
Arkansas State 21
Miami-Ohio 24 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Idaho 24 FINAL
Ohio U 36
Ball State 23 FINAL
Toledo 34
(14) So Carolina 48 FINAL
Vanderbilt 34
(4) Oklahoma 45 FINAL
West Virginia 33
Ga Southern 28 FINAL
South Alabama 6
Houston 47
Miami-Florida 31 FINAL
(24) Nebraska 41
New Mexico 38 FINAL
New Mexico St 35
(22) Clemson 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 23
California 45 FINAL
Arizona 49
San Diego St 7 FINAL
Oregon State 28
(2) Oregon 38 FINAL
Washington St 31
Louisiana 9 FINAL
Boise State 34
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(25) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(12) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:00 AM
NC State
Duke 9/27/14 2:00 AM
North Carolina 9/27/14 2:00 AM
(22) Clemson
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(20) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(13) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(11) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(23) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
(18) Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(14) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(8) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(9) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(24) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(17) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Vancouver FC 0 FINAL
Portland 3
Houston 0 FINAL
Philadelphia 0
New England 0 FINAL
Columbus 1
San Jose 0 FINAL
Montreal 2
Seattle 1 FINAL
Red Bull New York 4
Chicago 3
FC Dallas 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Toronto 40 FINAL
Brt Columbia 23
Edmonton 23 FINAL
Hamilton 25
Calgary 12:00 PM
Ottawa 3:00 PM
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