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.

Wild's lineup news heading into tonight's game against Columbus

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 15, 2014 - 12:30 PM

Darcy Kuemper vs. Sergei Bobrovsky tonight at the X when the Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets face off at 7. The Wild looks to salvage its homestand (1-0-2) before hitting the road for three tomorrow.

I’ll be on Fox Sports North during the pregame show and first intermission.

The Wild’s third D pair rotation continues. The pattern has been two games in, one off.

So Nate Prosser gets in for Keith Ballard tonight. If the pattern holds, Clayton Stoner won’t play in Boston and Ballard will.

Same Wild lines tonight that finished the Rangers game:





Justin Fontaine will be scratched for the fifth consecutive game, and whether you agree or not, if you read Rachel Blount’s notebook today on www.startribune.com/wild, coach Mike Yeo addressed the Fontaine situation.

Very optional skate this morning for the Wild. Actually, it was a directional skate, Yeo called, it. In other words, the players the Wild wanted skating were told to skate and others were told to stay off the ice. Those were all the top-minute guys, so the top-9 forwards and top-4 defensemen were told not to skate.

Yeo said the Wild tried to get something out of Friday’s practice, but he wants players full of energy tonight.

Yeo expects tonight’s game will be similar to Thursday’s Rangers game. The Blue Jackets are playing very well. They’re 5-1-1 this month and coach Todd Richards is running four lines. Columbus’ fourth line is averaging about 12 minutes a night, and they’re a hard-checking, hard-working team.

So Yeo expects both teams will have to “fight for space.”

I asked Yeo about the Wild’s speed today. Since the March 5 trade for Matt Moulson and Cody McCormick, the Wild just doesn’t seem as fast to me. A lot has to do with the trade of Torrey Mitchell, the removal of Fontaine from the lineup, the addition of Moulson, who’s not the fastest skater, and Mikko Koivu’s return to the lineup. He’s still getting up to speed after two months off with an ankle injury.

But Yeo said there won’t be too many faster opponents than the Rangers and “we didn’t feel slow in that game.” He said at times the Wild weren’t pressuring well enough, and the coaches showed video of that. He said that was more off the forecheck and going in straight lines, but “we weren’t losing foot races.”

“I think we have a nice mix right now of size and speed. You can’t be too small, you can’t be too slow. I think we have a little bit of everything.”

Speaking of speed, injured Jason Zucker is back skating again before practices and “hopefully we start progressing him along,” Yeo said.

I think Rachel blogged yesterday, but our blog platform was down and I don’t think it ever published.

Yesterday, I asked Yeo a question I keep getting about why the Wild doesn’t maybe move Erik Haula into a third-line role and Kyle Brodziak to the fourth. Brodziak, by the way, has taken four minors in the past four games and Yeo said Brodziak has to cut that out. He’s one of the Wild’s best penalty killers, which may be part of the reason the Wild gave up power-play goals on three of those four minors by Brodziak.

As for Haula, a rookie, Yeo said, “We’ve done a pretty good job handling him. As far as his development, he’s improved, we’ve increased his role and responsibilities (like penalty killing). And we haven’t done it too quickly. We haven’t pushed him into a position where he might not be ready for. We have moved him up a couple times here and there and we will use him in this next stretch. We’ll gauge it game by game. It’s something, you’ve just got to keep earning it.”

In other words, be patient. Haula’s time will come.

Talk to you tonight. Judging by the Jackets’ skate, Fedor Tyutin will return for the first time since hurting his ankle in the Olympics. Former Wild defenseman Nick Schultz, acquired from Edmonton, looks to be the scratch. His wife and son actually came in for the game from Edmonton.


Oakland - LP: D. Otero 8 FINAL
Kansas City - WP: J. Frasor 9
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
NY Islanders 5 FINAL
Boston 3
NY Rangers 2 FINAL
Philadelphia 4
Ottawa 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Carolina 1 FINAL
St. Louis 3
Tampa Bay 5 FINAL
Dallas 1
Colorado 0 FINAL
Calgary 2
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
San Jose 1
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question