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.

Bryzgalov to start Game 1 of the Wild-Blackhawks series

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: May 1, 2014 - 9:18 PM

Good evening back in the Twin Cities. Late blog I know, but a long travel day, followed by late Wild availability because of our long travel day, followed by a lot of writing for the paper.

Basically, just like the Wild had to accelerate its prep for the Blackhawks today, I had to accelerate an abbreviated series preview into the paper.

One day is not a lot of time to prepare for either the team or the stinkin’ ink-stained wretch.

Since it’s so late and our coverage is about to hit startribune.com/wild anyway, I’m just going to leave this blog to bare essentials.

1. I have received lots of questions from Wild fans whom they should follow from the Blackhawks media on Twitter. First, please follow our awesome correspondent, Blake Schuster, who will cover the Hawks for us when the series is in Chicago. His Twitter handle is @schustee19. The Blackhawks’ beat-writing crew may be the best and definitely the coolest peeps in the NHL. Follow, @TramyersCSN, @ChrisKuc, @MarkLazerus and @BrianHedger.

2. No update, predictably, from Mike Yeo on goalie Darcy Kuemper. The only thing we know is Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start Game 1 with John Curry backing him up. Lots more on this in Friday’s paper.

3. Game 7 was the highest-rated telecast ever on Fox Sports North. The Wild’s midweek matchup against the Avalanche generated a 16.4 household rating in the Minneapolis – St. Paul DMA, according to Nielsen Media Research. The previous record, a 15.3 rating, was logged in August of 2010 by the Minnesota Twins (vs. White Sox). In the Minneapolis – St. Paul market, 17,280 households represent one rating point. That means over 283,390 households tuned in for the playoff series finale. The game received a 32 share, signifying 32 percent of the viewing audience in the Twins Cities watched the game. During OT, the telecast reached its peak viewing audience with a 18.3 rating and 49 share, indicating that nearly half of Twin Cities households were tuned in.

4. Single-game tickets for Games 3, 4 and 6 go on sale Saturday at 10 a.m. Tickets range from $49 to $146.

5. Smattering of Mike Yeo quotes from today’s availability:

Mike Yeo

What did the Avalanche series win do to the Wild’s confidence? “Certainly we learned a lot. We've got a lot of young guys on our team, we've got a lot of young players that are playing in critical positions in our lineup, but I think as much as anything, whether it's guys that haven't had a lot of experience in the playoffs or just us as a group not having a lot of experience in the playoffs, just learning the grind, learning what it takes to go through that mentally, the challenge that you face every day and as much as anything having the confidence of your teammates, knowing that we can fight through adversity and keep battling and keep pushing forward. Certainly we're going to face a lot of similar challenges and we're going to have to feel confident that we'll be ready to handle them.”

What did last year’s series loss to Chicago teach you guys? “Well, it taught us some things, that's for sure. It taught us the level. I remember parts of the (games) last year, where I felt like we were great. We had a great start and all of a sudden we lose the game 5-1, because they have an awful lot of skill over there, they're confident in their game, they stay composed, they stay with it, and then all of a sudden you make a mistake and they capitalize on it. Definitely a real good challenge. We get to move on. We're excited about that and now we get to move on and we have the great challenge for facing the defending Stanley Cup champions."

How much better is your secondary scoring? “We feel that we're deeper than last year. That was one thing we talked about going into the playoffs. I do believe that not having (Pominville) available last year, we didn't have (Heatley) available last year, we lost (Stoner) in his first shift, he had a great series in Round 1 (this year) ... I thought he was very physical and real hard on, especially some of their skill players. But it's a new challenge. This is a team that will challenge you throughout your lineup because of their depth, because of the strength they have from top to bottom. Their top guys are going to challenge your top guys and their depth guys are going to challenge your depth. It's a great challenge and one that we should really look forward to."

Challenge of the goaltending situation? “Ironically, it's not that much of a challenge to be honest with you. I even heard a couple of our players joking about it right now, because it's been an ongoing ... not just this year but it's something we've had to deal with the last couple years. And I give our players a great deal of credit for how they've dealt with it. For one, we've got great depth. Chuck did a great job at the trade deadline, picking up (Bryzgalov) and he's done a great job for us. Obviously we've had, whether it's (Backstrom), (Harding) or (Kuemper), all four of these guys have done a great job at some point during the season for us. But again, I think an awful lot of credit has to go to the guys and the way they play the game in front of them. So, those guys have done the job but our team has played a game in front of them that has given them a chance to be successful too, and that game hasn't changed. It hasn't changed from one goal to the next, and that's where I feel that we've matured a little bit as a team. We're a little more comfortable in our own skin, where we can play against Colorado, we can play against Chicago and there shouldn't be a lot of changes to our game either. We should go out and try to put our best game on the table and be confident with that.”

Does it stink not to get to enjoy first-round win more? "I don't mind that to be honest with you, especially kind of with their youth, with their inexperience. Certainly one thing that we have to guard against is just the high of last game and just making sure we don't have a drop in focus and just sort of the battle and will that we have to bring to the game. I think that if there was a few days in between, I would be a little more concerned, and I'm still concerned about it, but it will still be a good challenge for us to see how we come out (Friday), but I really don't mind to be honest with you."

On Matt Cooke’s return in Game 4: “This is a guy that we really value, because of what he can add in the playoffs. His physicality, I think, could be a factor in this series. His ability to get in on the forecheck and as far as finishing checks and disrupting and just sort of the awareness the other team has when he's on the ice. But probably more importantly than that is just his experience in these situations, his ability to help our young players, his ability to help on the penalty kill as a checking forward, so we'll try to keep him involved here."

Talk Friday!

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 12/18/14 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 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
Atlanta 127 FINAL
Cleveland 98
Phoenix 111 FINAL
Charlotte 106
Dallas 117 FINAL
Detroit 106
Utah 105 FINAL
Miami 87
Orlando 92 FINAL
Boston 109
Brooklyn 89 FINAL
Toronto 105
Memphis 117 FINAL
San Antonio 116
Milwaukee 76 4th Qtr 8:56
Portland 75
Houston 55 3rd Qtr
Denver 60
Indiana 51 3rd Qtr 11:50
LA Clippers 52
Ottawa 2 FINAL
New Jersey 0
Boston 3 FINAL(OT)
Minnesota 2
Dallas 1 3rd Prd
Vancouver 0
Langston 65 FINAL
North Texas 78
Delaware State 72 FINAL
St Francis-NY 64
James Madison 72 FINAL
Ball State 52
SIU Edwardsville 65 FINAL
Campbell 70
St Francis-PA 67 FINAL
Duquesne 52
North Florida 77 FINAL
Florida State 93
Catawba 69 FINAL
George Mason 99
Ferrum 48 FINAL
High Point 106
Hampton 55 FINAL
Illinois 73
Gardner-Webb 65 FINAL
Jacksonville 68
Longwood 60 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 71
Arkansas State 69 FINAL
Miss State 55
Tennessee 72 FINAL
NC State 83
NC A&T 55 FINAL
Ohio State 97
Manhattan 56 FINAL
Pittsburgh 65
Robert Morris 57 FINAL
Toledo 83
Char Southern 58 FINAL
Wofford 64
Kennesaw St 90 FINAL
Youngstown St 84
Barber-Scotia 52 FINAL
NC Central 108
Detroit 70 FINAL
UCF 75
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 73
TX A&M-CC 73 FINAL
Denver 83
Ark-Pine Bluff 61 FINAL
Houston 56
UT Martin 54 FINAL
Illinois State 64
Milligan 76 FINAL
Louisiana 115
Abilene Christian 44 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 83
USC Upstate 73 FINAL
Memphis 83
Alcorn State 56 FINAL
Murray State 94
Central Mich 80 FINAL
Northwestern 67
Georgia State 54 FINAL
Old Dominion 58
TX-Pan American 69 FINAL
Saint Louis 75
Ill-Chicago 46 FINAL
SMU 67
Texas State 60 FINAL
Stephen F Austin 66
SC State 39 FINAL
Texas Tech 101
Missouri State 70 FINAL
Tulsa 74
Chicago State 60 FINAL
Western Ky 75
Morehead State 50 FINAL
Green Bay 66
Northern Colorado 82 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 92
Winthrop 62 FINAL
Auburn 80
New Mexico St 55 FINAL
Baylor 66
San Diego St 62 FINAL
Cincinnati 71
Eastern Mich 46 FINAL
Michigan State 66
Loyola Marymount 58 FINAL
Stanford 67
Incarnate Word 82 FINAL
Grand Canyon 80
Northeastern 58 FINAL
Cal Poly 60
Central Arkansas 55 FINAL
New Mexico 76
Howard 40 2nd Half 3:53
Pepperdine 42
Portland 41 2nd Half 10:52
UNLV 37
CS-Northridge 26 1st Half 2:47
Oregon 32
Grambling St 13 2nd Half
Washington 45
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 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
Western Carolina 79 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 66
(21) Miss State 66 FINAL
Louisiana 51
(25) DePaul 109 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 84
Liberty 64 FINAL
NC State 67
Elon 77 FINAL
Campbell 51
Akron 73 FINAL
UCF 64
Richmond 77 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 67
Montana 70 FINAL
Seattle 64
(7) Stanford 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 54
Florida A&M 69 FINAL
Southern U 80
Oklahoma 72 FINAL
(13) Duke 92
Savannah State 56 FINAL
Auburn 62
Northern Colorado 43 FINAL
South Florida 84
Youngstown St 73 FINAL
Robert Morris 65
Siena 75 FINAL
Sacred Heart 65
Vermont 63 FINAL
St Francis-NY 61
(1) South Carolina 69 FINAL
Hampton 49
Fla Gulf Coast 91 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 46
Texas Southern 92 FINAL
Houston Baptist 80
Northwestern 88 FINAL
UNLV 84
NC A&T 70 FINAL
Appalachian St 72
NC Central 52 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 67
Drexel 50 FINAL
Quinnipiac 74
Cincinnati 52 FINAL
Northern Ky 66
Alabama State 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 77
Morehead St 69 FINAL
USC Upstate 75
Arkansas State 59 FINAL
Kent State 44
American Univ 60 FINAL
Manhattan 52
UNC Greensboro 60 FINAL
St Bonaventure 78
Arkansas-Monticello 56 FINAL
Northwestern St 61
Prairie View 70 FINAL
Sam Houston St 51
McNeese State 59 FINAL
(3) Texas 76
Yale 90 FINAL
Wagner 65
Oakland 61 FINAL
TX A&M-CC 54
Eastern Kentucky 62 FINAL
Alabama A&M 56
SIU-Edwardsville 47 FINAL
Northern Ill 69
McMurry 25 FINAL
TX-Arlington 82
Portland 65 FINAL
Eastern Washington 72
North Texas 42 FINAL
San Francisco 60
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