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.

Updates on Wild's injuries and goalie trifecta heading into tonight's game vs. Dallas

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: January 18, 2014 - 12:08 PM

Happy Hockey Day Minnesota everybody.

Wild and the Minnesota’s former NHL team, the Dallas Stars, will face off tonight at 8 p.m. at the X. That’s also known as a deadline nightmare on a Saturday night! This is the first of a home-and-home that ends in Dallas on Tuesday. Dallas is eight points behind the Wild is 10th place.

Darcy Kuemper (3-2 with a 2.17 goals-against average and .917 save percentage) will make his fourth consecutive start and it’ll come against Kari Lehtonen (17-13-7 with a 2.64 goals-against average and .916 save percentage). Banged-up Ray Whitney and Sergei Gonchar will both play for Dallas.

The Wild is 6-2 this month, the Stars are 1-7. I was just chatting with Stars coach Lindy Ruff and he said it started with a flu bug and has just compounded from there. It’s now a matter of rediscovering their game, which is difficult in a compressed schedule where there are limited practices (because of the condensed schedule AND the new four mandatory days off per month) and you don’t know how hard to push a team when there happens to be a practice.

Sound familiar? Ruff voiced the words of almost every coach I’ve spoken to lately, so you can see, it’s not just Mike Yeo who talks about the difficulty of coaching right now.

Here’s one for ya: The other night, Edmonton played in Dallas and had a planned day off in Minnesota the next day. But, instead of getting a good night sleep in Dallas and flying to St. Paul in the morning, the Oilers were forced to fly immediately after the game to Minnesota so the schedule day off would actually count as one of the mandatory days off. In other words, a chartered flight with incredible food and first-class seats would have counted as a working day if the Oilers had flown in on the off-day.

Bizarre.

Same lineup tonight for the Wild, meaning Mike Rupp is the lone scratch for the ninth straight game and 17th time in the past 20. I say “lone” because defenseman Jon Blum was, likely temporarily, reassigned.

Blum wasn’t playing tonight and with a scheduled day off Sunday, the Wild sent him to Iowa to play this afternoon. With Jared Spurgeon’s return still off in the distance, I’d assume Blum gets recalled again next week because the Wild would probably want to bring an extra defenseman on the four-game trip to San Jose, Anaheim, Denver and Calgary.

We’ll see.

Zach Parise skated again today and said he thinks he’ll ramp it up in Monday’s practice and begin bumping and being more involved in game-like situations in practice. He’ll miss his 13th game tonight and won’t play in Dallas on Tuesday, so the soonest he could come back is Thursday against Chicago. We’ll see if that’s pushing it, but if he does start practicing fully Monday, that would give him Monday and Wednesday practices.

I’m not sure if that’s enough though. My gut says he’ll be back Thursday or in Saturday’s game at San Jose. He did tell me he plans on going on the four-game road trip.

Spurgeon skated on his own for the first time today.

The big question right now is what’s going to happen with the Wild’s goalie situation.

Kuemper starts tonight. It sounds like the Wild really would want Josh Harding to eventually agree to go to Iowa on a conditioning stint. The team has been vague.

Harding has practiced all week and looks good.

Yeo said the team will “keep going day to day and figure out how he’s feeling. He’s making progress and he looks good and I’m kind of waiting for a final word or a little bit more information as far as what I’m told from the trainers and the doctors and when he can progress from there.”

On Iowa, Yeo said, “I don’t know. It depends on what we need and what we really determine he needs.”

I asked Yeo if the Wild could conceivably have three goalies on its 23-man roster if Kuemper keeps winning.

Yeo said, “If he keeps winning games, we’re not going to send him down. I can’t see why we would do that. These things always have a way of sorting themselves out. We can’t start looking too far ahead.”

I keep getting questions if the Wild may trade Backstrom. First off, with two more years left on his deal, I’m not sure the team could. Secondly, I don’t know how if you’re Chuck Fletcher you can risk trading Backstrom with Harding’s health situation so uncertain.

So my guess is the Wild will just have to ride this out for a bit. If the Wild’s three goalies keep winning games, it’s not a big deal at all. Remember, Backstrom has won three of four with maybe his best outing in a few seasons two starts ago at Phoenix.

That’s it for now. I’ll be on Fox Sports North around 12:30 p.m.

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Utah 101 FINAL
Orlando 94
Charlotte 109 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Brooklyn 91 FINAL
Cleveland 95
Washington 105 FINAL
Miami 103
Minnesota 98 FINAL
Boston 114
Toronto 110 FINAL
Detroit 100
Chicago 103 FINAL
Memphis 97
Portland 129 FINAL
San Antonio 119
LA Clippers 106 FINAL
Denver 109
Oklahoma City 104 FINAL
LA Lakers 103
Tampa Bay 2 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 3
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Ottawa 6
NY Islanders 2 FINAL
Detroit 1
Boston 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Dallas 2 FINAL
Calgary 1
Wilberforce 71 FINAL
Youngstown St 92
Jackson State 49 FINAL
Tulane 56
Siena 66 FINAL
Radford 76
Stillman 49 FINAL
Alabama 69
Case Western Reserve 65 FINAL
Bucknell 88
Niagara 62 FINAL
Buffalo 88
SD Christian 46 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 69
Concordia (MI) 60 FINAL
Central Mich 97
Northern Ill 55 FINAL
Dartmouth 58
North Florida 83 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Hiwassee 71 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 91
Tennessee St 54 FINAL
Hampton 66
NC A&T 57 FINAL
Kent State 71
Central Penn College 65 FINAL
Liberty 94
Eastern Ky 72 FINAL
Miami-Florida 44
Northern Ky 83 FINAL
Morehead State 60
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
Norfolk State 81
MD-Eastern Shore 43 FINAL
Old Dominion 60
St Marys-CA 47 FINAL
St Johns 53
Clemson 45 FINAL
South Carolina 68
Tenn Tech 58 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Washington-MD 46 FINAL
William & Mary 86
Bethune-Cookman 46 FINAL
Mercer 67
Furman 78 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 83
South Dakota St 53 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 49
Milligan 53 FINAL
Lamar 80
LSU-Alexandria 71 FINAL
ULM 76
Southern Utah 57 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 73
Chattanooga 58 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 68
Seattle 57 FINAL
Minnesota 92
Lipscomb 55 FINAL
Princeton 77
Winthrop 71 FINAL
SE Louisiana 81
Dickinson State 48 FINAL
North Dakota 78
New Orleans 56 FINAL
Southern Ill 52
TX-Pan American 60 FINAL
Creighton 75
Colorado State 85 FINAL
Denver 84
Alabama A&M 49 FINAL
Marquette 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 51 FINAL
Texas Tech 72
Eastern Wash 67 FINAL
California 78
Idaho State 56 FINAL
Utah State 69
Arizona 60 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 55
Hawaii 94 FINAL
Chaminade 63
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
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
Rice
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
UCF
Ohio Valley 33 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
East Tenn St 48 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 61
Cal-Irvine 44 FINAL
Purdue 69
Campbell 63 FINAL
Stetson 76
Jacksonville St 70 FINAL
Charleston Southern 43
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Alcorn State 57
Denver 63 FINAL
Wright State 72
Blue Mountain 30 FINAL
Central Arkansas 71
Texas State 51 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 40
Albany 62 FINAL
Pepperdine 36
TX-San Antonio 53 FINAL
Houston 56
Yale 66 FINAL
Bucknell 73
Northern Colorado 56 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 69
Belmont 86 FINAL
Mercer 83
Massachusetts 66 FINAL
Georgia State 71
George Mason 69 FINAL
Winthrop 57
Portland State 33 FINAL
Princeton 104
UCLA 71 FINAL
Samford 52
Mobile 30 FINAL
Alabama State 66
Nicholls 49 FINAL
Texas Tech 76
Toledo 65 FINAL
Nevada 56
UMass Lowell 48 FINAL
(13) Duke 95
St Marys-CA 49 FINAL
Virginia 62
McNeese State 55 FINAL
Rice 57
McMurry 49 FINAL
Houston Baptist 69
NJIT 62 FINAL
Seton Hall 74
(6) North Carolina 65 FINAL
Maine 36
Lafayette 58 FINAL
Stony Brook 60
Siena 62 FINAL
Binghamton 53
Longwood 56 FINAL
Clemson 72
Savannah State 51 FINAL
Florida State 97
(19) Syracuse 72 FINAL
(9) Baylor 74
Buffalo 68 FINAL
Manhattan 58
Canisius 43 FINAL
Michigan 79
Davidson 66 FINAL
NC State 82
Northern Ky 63 FINAL
Delaware 58
Saint Louis 81 FINAL
Austin Peay 86
(25) DePaul 64 FINAL
(2) Connecticut 98
Ohio U 74 FINAL
La Salle 63
Florida Atlantic 60 FINAL
Long Beach St 85
Miami-Florida 65 FINAL
Tulane 70
Miss Valley St 39 FINAL
Memphis 62
Ark-Pine Bluff 56 FINAL
UAB 65
Bowling Green 58 FINAL
Illinois State 54
Arkansas State 78 FINAL
Missouri State 62
ULM 42 FINAL
Wichita State 57
(16) Oregon State 71 FINAL
Southern Ill 55
Pacific 67 FINAL
New Mexico St 62
No Dakota State 79 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 86
Utah State 92 FINAL
Sacramento St 102
Bethesda (CA) 61 FINAL
Fresno State 83
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
Montana 68
LSU 78 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 45
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: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT