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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Justin Fontaine returns against the Bruins; Mike Yeo chats with Dany Heatley about 4th-line role

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 17, 2014 - 12:24 PM

Happy St. Patty's Day from Boston, which after experiencing it last night, I think this city needs to stand up and admit once and for all that it has a drinking problem. smiley

Wild and Bruins tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Network. Kenny Albert and Pierre McGuire at the mics.

Former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla will play his 1,300th game tonight. The all-time leader against the Wild with 35 goals, 65 points, 10 game-winners and 231 shots in 70 meetings has had plenty of milestones against Minnesota. Off the top of my head, he has scored his 300th goal, 600th point and 500th goal against the Wild.

I had a good one-on-one this morning with Iginla and will likely write my Sunday column on him this week. Remember, many felt he was all but done last year, but he's the leading goal scorer (23) and second-leading scorer (53 points) for the deepest team in the East playing on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.

The Bruins have won eight in a row, are 16-2-3 in their past 21 overall and 11-2 in their past 13 at home. They're a league-best 27-7-2 at home. The Bruins, who have outscored opponents 32-12 during their winning streak, average an East-best 3.18 goals per game and allow an East-best 2.13. They average 32.2 shots per game -- fifth-best in the NHL -- and have the league’s seventh-best power play (20.5 percent).

The Wild hasn't been here since 2011. I think if I remember correctly that was that three-game road trip Jose Theodore swept. It ended with a shutout at Pittsburgh. The Wild is 6-0 all-time in Boston and 10-1-1 against Boston overall. The Bruins are 0 for 36 all-time vs. the Wild on the power play, the Wild is 16 for 56 on the power play against them.

Darcy Kuemper vs. Tuukka Rask tonight. Rask is 30-14-4 with a 2.10 goals-against average, .928 save percentage, .928 save percentage and six shutouts. Coach Mike Yeo said Ilya Bryzgalov will likely start tomorrow at the Islanders.

Justin Fontaine, scratched the past five games, gets back into the Wild lineup tonight. Cody McCormick will be scratched. Nate Prosser will be the defenseman scratched. Yeo is messing with his third pair rotation because Clayton Stoner played well Saturday against Columbus and because the Bruins are physical. Wants some edge, especially with McCormick sitting to get Fontaine back in.

Nino Niederreiter returns to Long Island tomorrow for the first time since last summer's trade to Minnesota. Yeo said he would have the same conversation with Niederreiter that he had this morning with Charlie Coyle, who is playing his first game in his hometown tonight in front of more than 1,000 family and friends.

Here is the feature I wrote on him today.

He wants Coyle and Niederreiter to just focus on having good games and not all the outside noise surrounding their returns. Speaking of outside noise, I had a good chat with Zach Parise about Thursday's return to New Jersey and that will be in Thursday's paper.

Speaking of good chats, Yeo and Dany Heatley had a very visible and very long one-on-one on the ice this morning. It actually looked somewhat heated at times, but Yeo said the proper word is honest. Yeo said he has a good relationship with Heatley, so good that they can each speak bluntly to each other.

Not difficult to ascertain the subject of the conversation.

Heatley was playing well. The acquisitions and the health of the Wild has resulted in Heatley dropping to the fourth line the past five games.

"It’s an adjustment. You look at how valuable he was when we had all these guys out, and then we get a lot of guys back and next thing you know he finds himself on the fourth line playing 8-10 minutes a night," Yeo said. "I just talked to him about that, talked to him about his game, what we need from him, but at the same time, we have to be trying to find a way to get him more involved through the course of the game so he’s not sitting on the bench five minutes. It's tougher for a big body like that."

Has he accepted being on the fourth line?

"He’s accepted it," Yeo said. "I don’t want him to be happy and satisfied being on the fourth line. We had a talk when it first happened and he’s been handling it really well. Like I said, I don’t want him to be, ‘Everything’s great.’ I want him demanding more ice time. The No. 1 way to do that is through your play."

Heatley joked that they were just talking about dinner last night.

Heatley played a fourth-line role earlier this season on a line with Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell. Then, he moved up.

"When we had some injuries, I got a chance to play and things went pretty good," Heatley said. "Obviously we don’t have injuries. But as we go toward the end of the year and the playoffs, teams usually move around some things. So we’ll see what happens. Just try to play my game and keep getting better."

The Wild needs more from Mikko Koivu. His line with Matt Moulson and either Coyle or Niederreiter has had one productive game against St. Louis. Coyle will be back on the line tonight with Niederreiter going back to the Matt Cooke-Kyle Brodziak line. Niederreiter didn't do well there the other night.

Koivu has two assists and six shots in six games since returning from an ankle injury.

It'll come, and for the Wild's sake, hopefully sooner rather than later for Koivu.

By the way, if this doesn't light a fire under Koivu, nothing will. A Wild fan I met had me deface his Koivu St. Patrick's jersey last night with my signature! Don't worry. Anthony LaPanta raised the value of the jersey again by autographing it as well.




Buffalo 17 FINAL
New England 9
Cleveland 10 FINAL
Baltimore 20
Dallas 44 FINAL
Washington 17
Indianapolis 27 FINAL
Tennessee 10
Jacksonville 17 FINAL
Houston 23
San Diego 7 FINAL
Kansas City 19
NY Jets 37 FINAL
Miami 24
Chicago 9 FINAL
Minnesota 13
Philadelphia 34 FINAL
NY Giants 26
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Tampa Bay 20
Carolina 34 FINAL
Atlanta 3
Detroit 20 FINAL
Green Bay 30
Oakland 14 FINAL
Denver 47
Arizona 17 FINAL
San Francisco 20
St. Louis 6 FINAL
Seattle 20
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Pittsburgh 27
Arizona 1/3/15 3:35 PM
Baltimore 1/3/15 7:15 PM
Detroit 103 FINAL
Cleveland 80
Houston 106 FINAL
San Antonio 110
Oklahoma City 107 FINAL
Dallas 112
New York 79 FINAL
Portland 101
Toronto 116 FINAL
Denver 102
Phoenix 116 FINAL
LA Lakers 107
Toronto 4 FINAL
Florida 6
Vancouver 1 FINAL(OT)
Anaheim 2
Tulane 57 FINAL
St Johns 82
Central Conn St 48 FINAL
Connecticut 81
Iona 81 FINAL
Drexel 62
Concordia (MI) 42 FINAL
Eastern Mich 100
Harvard 46 FINAL
Arizona State 56
Longwood 64 FINAL
Ball State 69
Sacred Heart 76 FINAL
Brown 79
Colgate 64 FINAL
Columbia 69
MD-Eastern Shore 78 FINAL
Duquesne 69
UNC Greensboro 50 FINAL
East Carolina 71
Marist 64 FINAL
Elon 69
Lafayette 76
Cincinnati Christian 58 FINAL
Liberty 78
Morgan State 53 FINAL
Marquette 81
Campbell 56 FINAL
Samford 65
Bucknell 71 FINAL
Siena 73
Long Beach State 67 FINAL
Syracuse 85
Coppin State 80 FINAL
Evansville 85
Indiana State 70
Hofstra 88 FINAL
Long Island 62
Coast Guard 48 FINAL
Army 93
Thomas (GA) 48 FINAL
High Point 85
Texas Southern 58 FINAL
Kansas State 56
Rutgers 59 FINAL
Monmouth 58
NC Wesleyan 54 FINAL
NC A&T 58
South Dakota St 63 FINAL
Northern Iowa 74
Central Penn College 69 FINAL
Radford 119
Bowling Green 79 FINAL
South Florida 70
Harris-Stowe 66 FINAL
SE Missouri St 94
Robert Morris-IL 56 FINAL
SIU Edwardsville 104
Northland College 59 FINAL
North Dakota St 83
Milwaukee 60 FINAL
South Dakota 84
Northwestern St 92 FINAL
Arkansas 100
Saint Peters 59 FINAL
Cornell 52
St Katherine 62 FINAL
Fresno State 93
Haskell 42 FINAL
Oral Roberts 94
Wake Forest 65 FINAL
Richmond 63
Fla Gulf Coast 57 FINAL
Xavier 71
SD Christian 45 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Judson 46 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 80
Ill-Chicago 60 FINAL
Bradley 68
Loyola-Maryland 61 FINAL
Fairfield 59
Miss Valley St 53 FINAL
Houston 80
Lehigh 58 FINAL
Delaware State 56 FINAL
Temple 66
Belmont 56 FINAL
Butler 67
Howard 59 FINAL
Fordham 74
NW Christian 67 FINAL
Nevada 81
UC Davis 83 FINAL
Washington St 90
Abilene Christian 81 FINAL
Grand Canyon 83
Alabama 56
Stony Brook 62 FINAL
Washington 57
Buffalo 56 FINAL
Wisconsin 68
CS-Bakersfield 55 FINAL
California 52
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 42 FINAL
(24) USC 45
Texas A&M 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
Toledo 1/4/15 8:00 PM
Arkansas State
Drexel 71 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 54
Holy Cross 63 FINAL
Norfolk State 62
East Carolina 62 FINAL
South Florida 69
(10) Oregon State 63 FINAL
(8) Tennessee 74
Providence 51 FINAL
Boston College 79
Florida A&M 47 FINAL
Miami-Florida 83
Oakland 69 FINAL
Central Michigan 74
Chattanooga 59 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 49
Fairfield 59 FINAL
La Salle 73
St Francis-PA 59 FINAL
Pittsburgh 97
Milwaukee 72 FINAL
IUPU-Ft Wayne 78
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Longwood 63
New Hampshire 58 FINAL
Manhattan 54
Bucknell 68 FINAL
Binghamton 57
Northeastern 70 FINAL
Albany 67
George Mason 70 FINAL
Towson 72
Richmond 59 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Tulane 60 FINAL
Cincinnati 50
North Florida 51 FINAL
Florida 63
(14) Georgia 51 FINAL
Seton Hall 70
Tennessee St 75 FINAL
(12) Kentucky 87
American Univ 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 77
Massachusetts 78 FINAL
Boston U 57
Quinnipiac 69 FINAL
Saint Josephs 67
Lafayette 49 FINAL
Saint Peters 34
Northwestern 61 FINAL
(20) Michigan State 57
Duquesne 82 FINAL
Lehigh 75
George Washington 72 FINAL
Loyola-Maryland 49
(17) Rutgers 66 FINAL
Indiana 51
(24) Green Bay 66 FINAL
Dayton 72
Western Mich 55 FINAL
Stony Brook 59
Davidson 67 FINAL
Virginia 57
UNC Greensboro 61 FINAL
LSU 82
Denver 63 FINAL
North Texas 55
VA Commonwealth 63 FINAL
Coppin State 52
Huston-Tillotson 36 FINAL
Houston Baptist 86
Lamar 63 FINAL
Rice 97
Miss Valley St 40 FINAL
Alabama 71
Saint Louis 63 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 49
Middle Tennessee 98 FINAL
Tenn Tech 76
Penn State 52 FINAL
(23) Iowa 77
Purdue 62 FINAL
Illinois 55
DePaul 99 FINAL
Illinois State 62
Sam Houston St 46 FINAL
Wichita State 70
South Dakota 76 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 69
(4) Notre Dame 82 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 51 FINAL
SC State 60
Alcorn State 53 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 63
Dartmouth 76 FINAL
Niagara 70
Colgate 68 FINAL
Siena 80
Michigan 53 FINAL
Wisconsin 63
Fla Gulf Coast 73 FINAL
CS-Northridge 64
Yale 51 FINAL
(25) Arizona State 69
UC Santa Barbara 34 FINAL
(16) Stanford 90
Long Island 63 FINAL
Long Beach St 71
Jackson State 56 FINAL
Louisiana 65
Eureka 50 FINAL
Western Ill 91
Cornell 59 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 76
Temple 58 FINAL
Memphis 57
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