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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After Wednesday's additions, Wild coach Mike Yeo unveils his new lines

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: March 6, 2014 - 4:45 PM

Wild newcomers Matt Moulson, Cody McCormick and Ilya Bryzgalov, wearing his old Oilers gear, practiced for the first time with their new teammates and met with the media in person for the first time this afternoon.

The mood was tremendous around the Wild today, Zach Parise said.

“You could tell in the locker room before, and definitely on the ice,” he said.

Moulson and McCormick provided some good color on their day yesterday. Coincidentally, they were sitting side by side eating lunch outside at Jacksons, which is the restaurant attached to the Westin in Tampa, on Wednesday watching TSN’s TradeCentre on NHL Network when McCormick got a text from the Wild’s Jason Pominville asking if it’s true they were traded to Minnesota.

McCormick said it caught both off guard, so after doing “some digging” with their agents, they found out it was true.

Moulson knew he was all but guaranteed to be traded during the Sabres’ road trip, so he said he tried to pack as much of his life and clothes as possible into two bags. His wife will ship the rest from Buffalo.

Moulson and McCormick were both very complimentary about their time in Buffalo but are “real happy to be a part of this,” said McCormick.

Today was about meeting new teammates, learning the details of the Wild’s systems and getting to know the area. Moulson and McCormick landed at 10:30 a.m. and practiced by 12:30 p.m. Bryzgalov got in last night.

Moulson and McCormick will make their Wild debuts Saturday in Dallas (coincidentally, their second straight games in Dallas because that’s where the Sabres last played) and Bryzgalov will likely start his first game in a Minnesota sweater Sunday night at home against the St. Louis Blues.

I’ve made you wait long enough. The much-anticipated lines:

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

Matt Moulson-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle

Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak-Nino Niederreiter

Dany Heatley-Erik Haula-Cody McCormick/Justin Fontaine

If you assume Haula will continue to center the fourth line and consider the fact that coach Mike Yeo indicated that McCormick will play Saturday, it appears as if Fontaine will be the odd man out at least for Saturday.

It'll be interesting to see Yeo's shootout lineup. Moulson is 7 for 12 this year (4th in the NHL) and 13 for 25 in his career. Yeo's 1-2-3 when they're in the lineup together is usually Parise, Koivu and Pominville. Parise and Koivu are each 3 for 9 this season and Pominville is 3 for 8. Parise has the second-most shootout goals than anybody in the NHL (35 for 78). Koivu is sixth n the NHL at 33 for 79. Pominville is tied for 21st at 21 for 55.

As GM Chuck Fletcher said Wednesday, the Wild’s goal is to have four deep lines and 1A and 1B power-play units.

We saw that today:

The units had interchangeable pointmen with Ryan Suter-Jason Pominville and Jonas Brodin-Jared Spurgeon. The three forwards were: Parise-Granlund-Heatley and Moulson-Koivu-Coyle.

“If you have two strong units, then you’re a much more dangerous team to play against, and that’s what we’re looking for,” Yeo said.

As Cooke and Parise told me today, what they love about the Wild’s depth now is that Yeo will have options. If there are injuries, if lines aren’t going, Cooke said Yeo can mix and match and “it kind of guarantees us two scoring threat lines.”

Yeo on his lines: “I liked the look of them before we went out on the ice and I liked the look of them after we came off the ice, too. I thought there was real good energy in our practice today. Obviously guys are excited. We felt really good about our team and where we were at going into this trade deadline and we feel that we’re a strong team now, we’re a deeper team. So we’re excited to put it to work now.”

And that’s what Yeo told the players before practice. He welcomed the trio of newcomers but told the group, “now the work starts.”

Parise and every player echoed the coach, saying it’s time to deliver these next 20 games in 37 days that begin Saturday.

“This is a tough conference that we play in,” Yeo said. “We feel that we’ve been getting better and have been narrowing the gap. This is another strong move to put us to another level, we believe. This is a great opportunity for us, but the work has to be put in. We’ve got to work now to build chemistry, we’ve got to work to make sure that we got everybody in the right roles and we’ve got to make sure that we’re working to continue to build as a team.”

Yeo, who used to be an assistant with Pittsburgh, said of Moulson, “Always a guy that you notice every game, finds a way to get chances, finds a way to be a factor in and around the net. And obviously he has the ability to put the puck in the net. But there’s more to his game than that. He’s a hard-working guy, he fits the identity that we have here, he’s going to complement the players that he’s going to play with very well. So it’s a guy we were excited to grab, that’s for sure.”

On McCormick: “I’m expecting that he’ll play in Dallas, give him a real good opportunity to get in and get comfortable with our game. And I would like to not just put him in for one game and take him out. I want to see what he can do here. I want to give him a chance to get comfortable with his game. He’ll get that opportunity this weekend. :

On Bryzgalov: “[Darcy] Kuemper has been playing great, but at the same time we need to protect him a little bit. And obviously Backy isn’t at 100 percent and he’s battled and we give him an unbelievable amount of credit for the way he’s handled things. It’s been in a real difficult situation. Kuemper has really stepped up when we needed him to. But you need some protection there and to get a guy of that caliber and not only give you minutes but win hockey games for you – we’re very excited about that.”

On his lines: “You look at the top two lines and certainly they’re put together with the idea that No. 1 they can go out and create, but they’re also going to be difficult to play against. They are lines that are going to pressure, they’re lines that are going to work, they’re lines that are going to be strong and should be good two-way lines for us. And with that our third and fourth lines are deeper as well and we feel they can go out and contribute any night for us too. Obviously we need those guys to have an identity and an important role as well. We like the depth that we have, we like the way that this looks right now, but when you have a deep team like this it also gives you more opportunity to try different things whether it’s mixing up the lines from night to night or game to game you have that opportunity. Certainly if all things are going well you’re probably going to keep things the same, but if they’re not there’s certainly more opportunity to make some switches too.”

On whether he talked to Heatley about being on the fourth line, Yeo said, “Yeah, Heatley was awesome. That’s the way he’s been all year. He just wants to be here and help the team. I know that we’re going to count on him down the stretch. This is a guy who’s elevated his play lately. He’s been scoring a lot of big goals for us and he wants to be a part of this group. What’s great about having a guy like Heater there is he can be effective on that line, but he’s going to push guys. If somebody is not getting it done above him then he can push them in a hurry. He’s got the ability to go out and score goals for us anytime.”

A lot of folks were tweeting me upset that Niederreiter wasn’t on the power play and Heatley is. Heatley has scored more power-play goals since 2001 than any player and has probably screened the goalie on 10 power-play goals the past two months. He’s the best net-front guy the Wild’s had on the power play – by far – so to me he should stick there.

McCormick is familiar with the Wild from his days with the Avalanche, and he said, “They come to play every night. It’s a high compete level in that dressing room and they bring it on the ice.”

On his game, “My game is a lot of grit, a lot of body contact. I like to play an in-your-face kind of style.”

Bryzgalov’s not the easiest guy to interview. He almost seems to intentionally try to make things feel uncomfortable with one or two word answers or making reporters squirm like one today who asked, “How were the last 24 hours for you?”

Bryz: “You want to know minute by minute.”

Reporter: “Excited for the opportunity?”

Bryz: “Oh yes.”

It’ll be an interesting contrast with Kuemper, who’s one of the most affable goalies I’ve ever covered.

Hopefully he doesn’t become a distraction like he reportedly was during his tenure in Philly.

Bryzgalov on potentially being the No. 2: “It’s not my call. I came here to work and work hard and bring the best of me to help the team to have the best success.”

On Kuemper, whom Bryzgalov got to watch shut out the Oilers last week, “He’s a good young kid with a promising big future. I saw a couple games he played. He played very calm, relaxed and good.”

He also took a subtle shot at the Oilers by saying practice was tough because it was a "higher pace" than he was used to in Edmonton. Ladislav Smid said something almost verbatim after his first practice after being traded from Edmonton to Calgary. After Bryzgalov's presser, I checked with Bryzgalov to make sure I heard his quote correctly and he repeated "way faster pace."

I'm also no goalie expert, but Bryzgalov did have a difficult practice. Just wasn't sharp, uh, stopping pucks.

I’ll be on KFAN at 5:55 p.m. I’ve also rescheduled my live startribune.com chat for Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Talk to you Friday. I’ll have to hustle for my flight after practice, so I’ll likely blog from the air. So please be patient for it.


Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
New York 71 FINAL
Charlotte 76
Detroit 86 FINAL
Milwaukee 101
Philadelphia 83 FINAL
Memphis 101
Brooklyn 73 FINAL
Utah 108
Washington 96 FINAL
Portland 103
Wake Forest 57 FINAL
Clemson 59
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
Drexel 53
Tulsa 66 FINAL
East Carolina 64
Oklahoma State 53 FINAL
Kansas State 63
Rutgers 51 FINAL
Penn State 79
Iowa 63 FINAL
Purdue 67
Kentucky 58 FINAL
South Carolina 43
DePaul 76 FINAL
Xavier 89
Navy 65 FINAL
Holy Cross 76
Bucknell 92 FINAL
Boston Univ 77
Allen (SC) 46 FINAL
Furman 82
South Dakota 50 FINAL
Texas A&M 67 FINAL
Tennessee 61
Citadel 75 FINAL
Va Military 85
Jacksonville 59 FINAL
Northern Ky 81
Loyola-Chicago 61 FINAL
Indiana State 72
Boise State 77 FINAL
Air Force 68
Kent State 63 FINAL
Ball State 52
Loyola-Maryland 58 FINAL
Colgate 59
Duquesne 59 FINAL
George Washington 74
Dartmouth 70 FINAL
Harvard 61
Lehigh 75 FINAL
Lafayette 71
Arkansas 61 FINAL
Missouri 60
Florida State 74 FINAL
North Carolina 78
Buffalo 61 FINAL
Ohio 63
Kansas 75 FINAL
Texas 62
West Virginia 86
Akron 71 FINAL
Western Mich 69
Northeastern 62 FINAL
William & Mary 78
Brown 65 FINAL
Yale 69
Stetson 67 FINAL
USC Upstate 91
Denver 69 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 80
Fla Gulf Coast 54 FINAL
Kennesaw St 48
Illinois 71 FINAL
Minnesota 79
Louisiana 64 FINAL
Georgia State 75
Georgetown 95 FINAL
Marquette 85
St Francis-PA 40 FINAL
Mount St Marys 52
Texas-El Paso 71 FINAL
Marshall 78
Georgia 72 FINAL
Miss State 66
TX-San Antonio 74 FINAL
Western Ky 83
CS-Bakersfield 57 FINAL
Chicago State 41
MD-Eastern Shore 74 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 70
Presbyterian 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 63
Southern Ill 66 FINAL
Evansville 75
James Madison 69 FINAL
Hofstra 63
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Nebraska 79
Miami-Ohio 60 FINAL
Northern Ill 55
McNeese State 67 FINAL
Northwestern St 93
Oregon 82
Robert Morris 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 65
San Diego 77
Miami-Florida 66 FINAL
Syracuse 62
Iowa State 73 FINAL
Texas Tech 78
Campbell 63 FINAL
Winthrop 71
New Mexico 62 FINAL
Wyoming 63
Sacred Heart 83 FINAL
Bryant 66
Austin Peay 56 FINAL
Eastern Ill 52
Eastern Mich 51 FINAL
Central Mich 65
Long Island 80 FINAL
Fair-Dickinson 76
Liberty 76 FINAL
Radford 84
Coppin State 77 FINAL
NC Central 79
Northern Ariz 71 FINAL
Montana State 64
North Florida 75 FINAL
Lipscomb 66
North Dakota 80 FINAL
Eastern Wash 102
Arkansas State 64 FINAL
Troy 55
Old Dominion 68 FINAL
UAB 81
Gardner-Webb 80 FINAL
Char Southern 93
Morehead State 66 FINAL
Jacksonville St 63
Ga Southern 57 FINAL
ULM 53
Stephen F Austin 79 FINAL
Sam Houston St 68
Appalachian St 64 FINAL
Texas State 58
Nicholls 71 FINAL
Central Arkansas 61
Incarnate Word 77 FINAL
Abilene Christian 61
Alcorn State 60 FINAL
Alabama State 84
Texas-Arlington 75 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 68
Oklahoma 58 FINAL
Baylor 69
UNC Greensboro 72 FINAL
Chattanooga 81
Howard 59 FINAL
Florida A&M 50
Jackson State 74 FINAL
Grambling St 63
Charlotte 69 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 72
Florida 71 FINAL
Ole Miss 72
Prairie View 72 FINAL
Miss Valley St 65
Delaware State 67 FINAL
NC A&T 52
Oregon State 59
Norfolk State 76 FINAL
SC State 63
Houston 59 FINAL
SMU 80
Vanderbilt 75
Hampton 66 FINAL
Savannah State 68
Cal State Fullerton 49 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 68
Wagner 50 FINAL
Central Conn St 53
Cornell 57 FINAL
Columbia 47
Richmond 60 FINAL
Dayton 63
Delaware 82 FINAL
Elon 94
Nevada 62 FINAL
Fresno State 66
Davidson 80 FINAL
George Mason 73
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
High Point 72
North Dakota St 71 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 77
Wisconsin 69 FINAL
Michigan 64
Canisius 46 FINAL
Rider 59
Penn 56 FINAL
Saint Josephs 52
Western Carolina 72 FINAL
Samford 78
SE Missouri St 53 FINAL
UT Martin 70
Bowling Green 67 FINAL
Toledo 71
East Tenn St 64 FINAL
Wofford 72
Ill-Chicago 64 FINAL
Youngstown St 77
Seattle 55 FINAL
New Orleans 67
Southern U 65 FINAL
Alabama A&M 58
Missouri State 59 FINAL
Bradley 61
Washington St 58 FINAL
Colorado 90
Pacific 60 FINAL
Gonzaga 91
Utah State 77 FINAL
Towson 65 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 69
Southern Miss 75 FINAL
North Texas 71
South Dakota St 76 FINAL
Oral Roberts 72
Louisiana Tech 58 FINAL
Rice 45
Grand Canyon 72 FINAL
TX-Pan American 73
Memphis 57 FINAL
Tulane 55
Murray State 60 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 54
Lamar 77 FINAL
Houston Baptist 79
Auburn 55 FINAL
Alabama 57
Texas Southern 62 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Southern Utah 56 FINAL
Montana 58
Utah Valley U 44 FINAL
New Mexico St 69
Sacramento St 78 FINAL
Weber State 71
Portland State 76 FINAL
Idaho State 80
Eastern Ky 81 FINAL
Tenn Tech 83
UC Riverside 49 FINAL
Cal Poly 68
Long Beach State 64 FINAL
CS-Northridge 58
San Diego St 73 FINAL
Colorado State 79
Northern Colorado 79 FINAL
Idaho 83
St Marys-CA 74 FINAL
Portland 64
Loyola Marymount 70 FINAL
San Francisco 69
Arizona 73 FINAL
California 50
Pepperdine 57 FINAL
Santa Clara 60
UC Irvine 78 FINAL
Hawaii 72
Arizona State 70 FINAL
Stanford 89
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Middle Tennessee 84 FINAL
Charlotte 54
Kansas State 46 FINAL
(3) Baylor 68
Louisiana 63 FINAL
Georgia State 56
Sacred Heart 67 FINAL
Bryant 71
Wagner 61 FINAL
Central Conn St 77
Robert Morris 67 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
Presbyterian 51 FINAL
Winthrop 54
Akron 74 FINAL
Central Michigan 72
Davidson 47 FINAL
Duquesne 83
Dayton 75 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 56
George Washington 67 FINAL
La Salle 48
USC Upstate 44 FINAL
Stetson 67
Long Island 79 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 75
MD-Eastern Shore 65 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 75
Coppin State 58 FINAL
NC Central 59
Wofford 47 FINAL
East Tenn St 69
UNC Greensboro 49 FINAL
Western Carolina 70
Campbell 40 FINAL
Liberty 64
Charleston Southern 71 FINAL
Longwood 79
McNeese State 54 FINAL
Northwestern St 75
Coastal Carolina 61 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 68
High Point 58 FINAL
Radford 61
Old Dominion 58
Penn 59 FINAL
Austin Peay 66 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 63
West Virginia 59 FINAL
Kansas 65
Miami-Ohio 53 FINAL
Bowling Green 66
Northern Ill 43 FINAL
Buffalo 47
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
Toledo 61
Western Mich 78 FINAL
Kent State 55
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Siena 59
Boston U 56 FINAL
Bucknell 72
Colgate 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 45
Holy Cross 60 FINAL
Navy 44
Rhode Island 57 FINAL
George Mason 45
Massachusetts 44 FINAL
Richmond 64
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Saint Josephs 66
Cleveland State 65 FINAL
Wright State 82
Green Bay 75 FINAL
Detroit 58
Northern Ky 70 FINAL
Jacksonville 59
Lipscomb 71 FINAL
North Florida 62
Tulsa 74 FINAL
East Carolina 63
Oklahoma St 62
Santa Clara 65 FINAL
Pepperdine 54
Denver 82 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 75
Incarnate Word 54 FINAL
Abilene Christian 78
Nicholls 75 FINAL
Central Arkansas 72
Furman 45 FINAL
Chattanooga 67
Nebraska Omaha 53 FINAL
Oral Roberts 74
Stephen F Austin 64 FINAL
Sam Houston St 65
(24) Western Ky 63 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 64
Houston 49 FINAL
Memphis 84
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Jacksonville St 72
Prairie View 78 FINAL
Miss Valley St 61
Appalachian St 58 FINAL
Texas State 67
Arkansas State 82 FINAL
Troy 76
American Univ 60 FINAL
Army 68
Georgia Southern 66 FINAL
ULM 72
Illinois-Chicago 63 FINAL
Milwaukee 64
Youngstown St 82 FINAL
Oakland 85
Eastern Washington 82 FINAL
North Dakota 96
Texas Tech 64 FINAL
Oklahoma 70
San Diego 50 FINAL
BYU 54
Air Force 54 FINAL
Boise State 81
Portland 53 FINAL
St Marys-CA 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Wyoming 54 FINAL
New Mexico 60
Delaware State 38 FINAL
NC A&T 79
Utah State 85
Hampton 55 FINAL
Savannah State 61
Marshall 76 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 71
Norfolk State 75 FINAL
SC State 79
Boston College 70 FINAL
Pittsburgh 78
Chicago State 58 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 83
Alcorn State 45 FINAL
Alabama State 54
Jackson State 64 FINAL
Grambling 55
TX-Arlington 38 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 66
Fordham 50 FINAL
Saint Louis 54
Idaho 52 FINAL
Northern Colorado 70
Cornell 44 FINAL
Columbia 42
Ohio U 60 FINAL
Ball State 53
Gonzaga 73 FINAL
Pacific 63
San Francisco 74 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 65
St Francis-PA 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 74
Colorado State 49 FINAL
San Diego State 36
Hawaii 85 FINAL
Cal-Irvine 50
Lamar 80 FINAL
Houston Baptist 64
New Orleans 46
Weber State 65 FINAL
Sacramento St 108
Florida Atlantic 77
North Texas 55 FINAL
Southern Miss 67
Southern U 77 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
(6) Notre Dame 74 FINAL
Clemson 36
Murray State 52 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 78
SE Missouri St 55 FINAL
UT Martin 96
New Mexico St 68 FINAL
Utah Valley U 58
No Dakota State 66 FINAL
Western Ill 88
Harvard 75 FINAL
Dartmouth 69
Texas Southern 74 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 45
Belmont 64 FINAL
Tennessee St 62
Eastern Kentucky 97 FINAL
Tenn Tech 93
South Dakota 43 FINAL
Fresno State 62 FINAL
Nevada 44
CS-Northridge 67 FINAL
Long Beach St 52
Rice 71 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 88
Seattle 60
Saint Peters 51 FINAL
Marist 77
Kennesaw St 47 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 61
Cal Poly 78 FINAL
UC-Riverside 82
Montana State 64 FINAL
Northern Ariz 79
UC Santa Barbara 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 54
Montana 59 FINAL
Southern Utah 37
Idaho State 65 FINAL
Portland State 53
TX-Pan American 54 FINAL
Grand Canyon 69
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