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.

Parise models USA gear, will play tonight for Wild

Posted by: Kent Youngblood under Olympic hockey, Wild game coverage Updated: January 23, 2014 - 12:54 PM

Zach Parise took a lot of ribbing from Wild teammates today when pictures of him modeling Team USA Olympic gear were released (see below).

But the good news for Parise is he will return to action tonight against Chicago after missing 14 games with a left foot injury. He will open the game skating on a line with Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter.

“It felt good again this morning,” he said after an optional morning skate. “So I think we’re going to give it a shot. I’m excited. It’s tough when you’re watching the game from the press box for such a long time. So I’m looking forward to playing again.”

It will be a challenge, and not just because his return happens to be against one of the league’s most talented teams. He hasn’t played since Dec. 22, when his first attempt to return from the injury ended after 12 games. So it will take some time to get his rhythm back, to become reacquainted with the pace of an NHL game.

“Just getting that pace down,” he said. “When you’re out for a long period of time? Practice is one thing. But games are just another pace. It’s another speed. Hopefully that won’t take too long to get back to where I was when I was feeling good.”

Parise said he’s confident the foot has healed, that there is no risk of re-injuring it simply by playing. He also said he feels worlds better than the first time he returned and tried to play through the injury. “It’s night and day how much better I feel,” he said. “That’s a good sign. It still hurts a little bit at times. It gets sore after {skating]. But it feels better than it did before when I was playing. The biggest test will be playing in a game.’’

Wild coach Mike Yeo said he and his staff will monitor Parise closely. Parise is not necessarily on a minutes limit, but Yeo will keep track of how he’s playing and where his conditioning is.

“No. 1, we want him on the ice,” Yeo said. “We have to get him back in there, and we wouldn’t be putting him in the lineup if he wasn’t ready. …  We’ll monitor it as far as how he’s doing conditioning-wise and how he looks out there. But we have to get him out there and back to playing his best hockey.’’

Parise’s return should help a team that has struggled to get shots on net, even though the Wild did win seven of their last 10 games.

“He’s going to help us with puck possession, which will help us get more pucks to the net,” Yeo said. “The way he hounds pucks, his work ethic, his skill level, executing, his skill level? We’re talking about a guy who consistently puts five-plus shots on the board. For a team that’s been having a tough time getting shots, that’s enormous.’’

On a lighter note, Parise had to withstand his teammates' teasing  for having modeled the outfit Team USA members will wear at the opening and closing ceremonies at the Olympics. The picture of Parise in the cardigan sweater and white pants has been copied and distributed around the team’s locker room and lounge areas.

The good news is that the U.S. hockey team will arrive in Sochi, Russia too late for opening ceremonies and will leave before the closing ceremonies. So neither Parise nor Ryan Suter will have to actually wear the outfits.  But that picture of Parise is here to stay. “There are a couple 8x10s of that picture hidden around the room that I’ve come across,” Parise admitted.

And there was this, too:


Meanwhile, the return of Parise has pushed Jason Zucker to the fourth line. It’s a new role for him. And, according to Yeo, a chance for Zucker to stick with the Wild long-term. To this point  Zucker has been targeted for the top two lines. When there wasn’t a spot for him there, he was sent back to the Iowa Wild.

“We’re giving him an opportunity here,” Yeo said. “There are no promises that go beyond tonight. If he can prove he can get an asset there, and he can be effective? He’s giving himself a better chance of staying here, long-term.’’


Houston 1 FINAL
Miami 1
Philadelphia 1 FINAL
Minnesota 7
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Detroit 4
Baltimore - WP: T. Wilson 10 FINAL
NY Yankees - LP: S. Baker 2
Boston 9 FINAL
Tampa Bay 6
Toronto 3 FINAL
Pittsburgh 8
Atlanta 5 FINAL
Toronto 3
Washington 2 FINAL
NY Mets 10
Chicago Cubs 5 FINAL
Cincinnati 9
San Diego 3 FINAL
Texas 2
San Francisco 9 FINAL
Seattle 8
Colorado 4 FINAL
Chicago Cubs 18
Cleveland 3 FINAL
Milwaukee 2
Oakland 10 FINAL
Chicago WSox 4
Los Angeles 5 FINAL
LA Angels 4
Kansas City 10 FINAL
Arizona 5
Atlanta 100 FINAL
Charlotte 115
New York 80 FINAL
Chicago 111
Golden State 108 FINAL
Milwaukee 95
Oklahoma City 89 FINAL
Utah 94
Denver 70 3rd Qtr 4:01
Portland 79
Nashville 4 FINAL
Washington 3
Arizona 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 3
San Jose 3 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 2
Anaheim 3 FINAL
NY Islanders 2
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Boston 4
Tampa Bay 0 FINAL
Detroit 4
New Jersey 1 FINAL
Carolina 3
Florida 2 FINAL(OT)
Montreal 3
Ottawa 3 FINAL(OT)
Toronto 4
Los Angeles 1 FINAL
Minnesota 4
Columbus 4 FINAL
St. Louis 2
Buffalo 3 FINAL
Colorado 5
Dallas 1 2nd Prd 1:04
Vancouver 2
Arizona 78 FINAL
Wisconsin 85
Canisius 73 FINAL
Notre Dame 66 FINAL
Kentucky 68
San Jose 1 FINAL
New England 2
Orlando City 2 FINAL
Montreal 2
Los Angeles 0 FINAL
D.C. 1
Sporting Kansas City 1 FINAL
New York City 0
Red Bull New York 2 FINAL
Columbus 1
Portland 1 FINAL
Vancouver FC 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Houston 0
Seattle 0 FINAL
FC Dallas 0
Texas 54 FINAL
(1) Connecticut 105
Dayton 82 FINAL
(8) Louisville 66
(16) Duke 55 FINAL
(4) Maryland 65
Gonzaga 69 FINAL
(6) Tennessee 73
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: What are you following most closely right now?

Weekly Question