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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Josh Harding, Ilya Bryzgalov, John Curry all on the ice in Chicago

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: May 2, 2014 - 2:32 PM

Wild and Blackhawks, Game 1, tonight, United Center. The game is on NBC Sports Network, but Fox Sports North will have an hour pregame show and a postgame show.

Afternoon from the Windy City, where the Wild plays its first second-round game in 11 years tonight. The Wild is 1-6 all-time in Game 1s (five overtimes), having lost six Game 1s in a row since its first one.

Ilya Bryzgalov with John Curry serving as backup vs. Corey Crawford.

Josh Harding, who actually began practicing again with the Wild in Chicago earlier this month, was on the ice in gear today for the first time with the big club in a few weeks. Darcy Kuemper is in an undisclosed location with an undisclosed upper-body injury “getting checked out,” coach Mike Yeo said.

On Harding skating, Yeo said, “Just more than anything else, let's just get him on the ice. This is an extreme longshot to think he would have a chance to play in this series. Get him on the ice and get him back to being part of the group and helping out a little bit with practice. Obviously this time of year, the goalie playing a lot of games isn't going to see a lot of time in practice. It's nice to have three goalies.

“For me I'm not even considering it right now. If there's an absolute emergency or there's a desperate situation we find ourselves in we'll be prepared for that. We're not getting him on the ice to get ready to play a game, let's put it that way.”

Yeah, and Matt Duchene wasn’t going to play in the last series, coach Patrick Roy said. He played the final two games. Last year, Harding didn’t start for two months and then had to start Game 1 of the playoffs. So, stranger things have happened. My gut says at some point in this series, Harding rappels down from the rafters – so to speak.

Curry will back up tonight. He said he has to be ready for anything. In Game 7, he was watching from a suite. When he saw Kuemper get hurt, he immediately went down to the locker room and suited up. He was on the bench as Bryzgalov’s backup when Nino Niederreiter scored, so 30 minutes or so after watching the game in a suit, Curry was on the ice celebrating and in a handshake line.

Go figure.

“Very cool,” Curry said of being part of it. “Earlier in the game, I was talking to Mike Rupp about Kuemps [and how good he was doing] and he said, ‘It’s amazing how quick things change for a goalie.’ A period, later, I’m dressed on the bench.”

I talked to Ryan Suter about the conversation he had with Kuemper in the second and third periods the other night before he left the game. Remember, Duchene knocked Kuemper down and his head hit Suter in the leg.

I’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s paper.

A taste: “Right away in the second period, I thought he was hurt. I asked him, ‘You alright?’ And he didn’t say anything so I said, ‘Well, you’re not coming out. You’re fine, you’re tough, you’re playing. I probably shouldn’t have said that,” Suter said, laughing.

Charlie Coyle has 15 stitches going from the right side of his lip down to the chin courtesy of Suter’s deflected shot in Game 7.  Basically, Suter was an absolute menace the other night to his teammates!!! (Well, except for the defensive play of the Wild’s season to almost certainly save a goal shortly before Niederreiter’s winner).

“I can’t even smile,” he said, … smiling.

He can talk (with a bit of a lisp), can eat, can drink. If he got one on the left side, it would look like a Fu Manchu.

“It was a freak accident. Luckily it tipped. I couldn’t imagine getting it straight on,” Coyle said. “Most [stitches] I’ve ever had. Well worth it. No teeth, thank God. I’m totally engaged now.”

What else?

No lineup changes for the Wild, I don’t think. Dany Heatley is on the first power-play unit tonight.

Yeo: “For me, this is the most Dany Heatley that we've seen all year. There's been parts - there was a stretch in the middle part of the year where we lost some guys. We really put him in a situation to take advantage of and he did. Then the trade deadline, there were different things that happened that pushed him down. He's just handled things so well all year. It's been real impressive to watch. I've had experience with older players and they find themselves out of the lineup, and I can honestly say that I've never worked with someone who has handled it the way he has as far as No. 1 not being a distraction and making sure he's supportive for his teammates but more importantly making sure he stays on top of things and works and is ready for this opportunity. He's moving real well right now, he's a guy with experience, he's a guy who plays strong on the puck, obviously has a chance to create some offense when he's out there.”

What was the toughest part of being scratched?

“Watching,” Heatley said. “The three hours of the game is the worst part of the day. You come to the rink and can do your work, be around the guys, still kinda go through the afternoon routine and not coming at four or five o'clock to the rink is the toughest part.”

I’ve got funny stuff from Kyle Brodziak on his celebration on the Niederreiter goal. Basically, he was the only one in the arena who knew the puck was in and starting jumping up and down. You can hear him screaming on the video.

His buddies made fun of his “vertical.”

More on that in tomorrow’s paper.

I’ll be on Barreiro at 3:15 and Comcast Chicago TV at 5.

If you didn't see the postgame locker room celebration produced by the Wild from Game 7, check this link


Talk later.


Kansas City - WP: J. Guthrie 3 FINAL
San Francisco - LP: T. Hudson 2
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Buffalo 10/26/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
St. Louis 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
Houston 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Seattle 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Miami 10/26/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 10/26/14 12:00 PM
New England
Philadelphia 10/26/14 3:05 PM
Oakland 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 10/26/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay 10/26/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Washington 10/27/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans 10/30/14 7:25 PM
Dallas 117 FINAL
Orlando 92
New York 80 FINAL
Toronto 83
San Antonio 87 FINAL
Houston 96
Miami 104 FINAL
Memphis 98
Minnesota 113 FINAL
Chicago 112
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Utah 100
Sacramento 93 FINAL
LA Lakers 92
Denver 112 FINAL
Golden State 119
Portland 99 FINAL
LA Clippers 89
Dallas 3 FINAL(SO)
New Jersey 2
Tampa Bay 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
Vancouver 3 FINAL
Colorado 7
Carolina 3 FINAL
Edmonton 6
Columbus 1 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Connecticut 21 FINAL
(18) East Carolina 31
Miami-Florida 30 FINAL
Virginia Tech 6
So Florida 17 FINAL
Cincinnati 34
Troy 13 FINAL
South Alabama 27
Boise State 55
(6) Oregon 59 FINAL
California 41
North Texas 11:00 AM
UAB 11:00 AM
Rutgers 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 11:00 AM
Texas 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 11:00 AM
Memphis 11:00 AM
North Carolina 11:30 AM
San Jose St 12:00 PM
Northern Ill 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 1:00 PM
Akron 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 1:00 PM
Ohio U 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 1:30 PM
Oregon State 2:30 PM
Fla Atlantic 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 2:30 PM
Georgia Tech 2:30 PM
(22) West Virginia 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 2:30 PM
Vanderbilt 3:00 PM
Old Dominion 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 4:00 PM
(15) Arizona 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 6:00 PM
(3) Ole Miss 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 6:30 PM
So Carolina 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 9:45 PM
Nevada 10:59 PM
(2) Florida State 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Troy 10/30/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Cincinnati 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa 10/31/14 7:00 PM
Purdue 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
(17) Oklahoma 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Iowa State
Oklahoma State 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
(10) TCU 11/1/14 2:00 AM
(22) West Virginia
Texas 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Texas Tech
Northwestern 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Maryland 11/1/14 2:00 AM
Penn State
Houston 1 FINAL
Chicago 2
Montreal 23 FINAL
Ottawa 17
Saskatchewan 27 FINAL
Calgary 40
Hamilton 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 6:00 PM
Hamilton 10/31/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 11/1/14 3:00 PM
Brt Columbia 11/1/14 6:00 PM
Toronto 11/2/14 11:00 AM
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