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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A look at Game 2 of the Tikkanese Cup; Open House Sunday

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: October 8, 2010 - 6:28 AM

Good morning back in the Twin Cities, where I'm sure it's a dark day with the Twins down 0-2. Same in Helsinki, where the Wild in all reality probably could have won its home opener with the amount of prime chances it had. But Cam Ward, along with bad traits that were so familiar last year crept into Minnesota's game -- ill-timed, lazy penalties, sloppy defensive zone play and mental lapses after goals.

Before I continue, just an fyi, not sure you'll get a fresh blog after tonight's game. The team leaves immediately after the game, and I'm on the charter back, and I'm 100 percent positive they're not waiting for me to blog. So I've got to get the actual stuff for the paper in, and then if I've got some time, I'll try to blog either from the bus or the plane. But can't guarantee it.

It might have to wait until Saturday -- sometime in the evening because I plan on sleeping all morning and afternoon with the phone off.  

Can't believe I'll be on a plane bound for the U.S. (actually Iceland, first) in 11 or so hours.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky is not expected to play tonight (this morning for you) unless something miraculous happens, like Karate Kid's Mr. Miyagi showing up, joked coach Todd Richards. Richards talked a lot about his blue line today, and he said he's still confident in them.

But he wants better play from some, like Cam Barker, and doesn't want Brent Burns and Nick Schultz to think they should do too much. Greg Zanon also didn't have a very good game, so again, rookie Justin Falk seemed to have the best game -- except for one or two shifts.

Rookie Casey Wellman will get in the lineup tonight for his season debut and Brad Staubitz will be scratched.

Obviously, this team doesn't want to return 0-2, or the pressure will get much more intense on everybody, especially Richards

I don't know if I've ever covered a team with so much negativity surrounding it, and I've covered probably more non-playoff teams than any sportswriter in history. But this year is different. It felt like Game 1 was the opening day of training camp, It just seemed like last year's disappointment blended right into this one, perhaps because it's extremely disconcerting that the exact same problems that plagued this team all of last season plagued them right through training camp and into Game 1.

Bad penalties, bad shifts after their opponent scores or they score, sloppy defensive zone play, goals in the final two minutes of periods.

But the reality is yesterday was Game 1 of 82, but it felt like they had just lost a playoff game or something. I've read the comments on the stories and blogs throughout camp, and fans are clearly displeased with the state of this franchise.

As I wrote in the article yesterday, this organization is under duress for the first time in franchise history. If there's a slow start, this thing could get ugly quick, and everybody senses it. Now, does that motivate them, or does it make the team wilt?

We will see, I guess.

Onward? How about Patrice Bergeron's deal? $5 million per. Talk about a bargain. Proof again that the Wild was over a barrel with Mikko Koivu.

By the way, if you want to see a special player, go to the Oilers highlights and check out Jordan Eberle's goal yesterday. There's why I picked him to be Rookie of the Year. Get used to seeing a lot of Eberle and Taylor Hall over the next several years at the X.

Lastly, the Wild will host an open house at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday from 1-4 p.m. Fans are invited to participate in a Year Ten passport tour and scavenger hunt that will take them to various locations throughout the arena for a chance to win ticket packages and Wild autographed merchandise.

Open skating is available and former Wild center Wes Walz will be on hand to sign autographs. The event is free and open to the public.
 
Talk to you later - maybe
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