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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Wild trounces Canucks, chases Luongo, makes Rypien lose marbles

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild game coverage Updated: October 20, 2010 - 12:38 AM

The Wild responded impressively to coach Todd Richards' challenge Sunday with a battle practice and bag skate by going out and trouncing rival Vancouver tonight.

Here's the gamer

Here's the notebook with a lot of stuff

But the big news Wednesday will be just how many games Canucks tough-guy Rick Rypien gets for the above indiscretion.

Whether the Wild fan taunted him or not -- and it appears all he's doing is clapping at him, wow! -- Rypien has zero right to make contact with any paid customer whatsoever, and it cannot be tolerated in any professional sports league.

You can bet the NHL will make a loud and crystal clear statement by sitting Rypien down for awhile. No excuse, despite Manny Malhotra's (No. 27 in the video) absurd assertion below that the fan got physical with Rypien.

“The fan got a little bit too involved, and there’s just no place for that in the game,” said Canucks forward Manny Malhotra to AP and the Canucks scribes. “There are boundaries that should never be crossed. We are in our area of work and we are all for the hooting and hollering and supporting your team and saying whatever is tasteful out there.

“But as soon as you cross that line and want to become physical with a player, we have to make sure we take care of ourselves.”

Here's some reaction on Twitter by some NHL insiders:

--Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com: "Rypien even got a punch in on Staubitz while Staubitz was being held down by linesman near bench. What a bad 30 seconds in Rypien's life!"

--Doug MacLean, former NHL coach and GM: "Rick Rypien will be severely dealt with. Very serious issue and league will come down hard on him. Gary Bettman detests this as do owners."

--Elliotte Friedman, Hockey Night in Canada: "Hunch: Rypien gets longest suspension of young NHL season. You cannot allow players to touch fans."

--Bob McKenzie, TSN: "Rick Rypien is so going to get suspended for that physical interaction with the Minnesota fan. Open and shut case. Just can't do it."

Rypien wasn't available for comment. He'll just have to comment to league discipline czar Colie Campbell during his guaranteed call Wednesday. Alain Vigneault said he didn't see it. I guess that's not him on video rushing to get Rypien off and usher him down the runway.

The officials must not have seen it either since they didn't give him a game misconduct, which is automatic under Rule 23.7. Rypien actually watched the beginning of the third period from the penalty box even though the incident happened in the second. He got a 10-minute misconduct and double minor. He skated back to the bench, but he didn't see another shift and wasn't on the bench late. Word from a fan on Twitter was Vigneault chatted with him and he left the bench.

So, if Vigneault doesn't do that, a player who physically grabbed a fan would have been permitted to play again in this game! Somebody goofed up.

The two fans were relocated to glass seats to the left of the Wild bench. Unfortunately we didn't find out until too late or I would have definitely ran down there to interview the young patrons.

As for the game, tremendous response by the team. It didn't look that way early when the Sedin Twins connected 58 seconds in.

But as I put in the notebook, coach Todd Richards said there was a tremendous response on the bench. John Madden said it was made clear there were 59 minutes left to come back, and boy, did they.

Marek Zidlicky, who was sensational, scored his 40th career power-play goal and 15th in Minnesota. That's 15 of 19 goals here on the PP, 40 of 54 in his career on the PP. He tied it. Then Guillaume Latendresse scored to make it 2-1 on Justin Falk's first NHL assist.

Soon after, Staubitz pumped up the crowd and the bench by beating up Rypien, one of the NHL's toughest fighters.

Eight minutes later, Havlat to Latendresse to Clutterbuck for a beauty. In the second, John Madden, Andrew Brunette and Matt Cullen scored.

Roberto Luongo was chased. I was the first to show up at his stall after the game, and he said, "Every time I see you Mike, I have a stinker."

He's not kidding, especially in Minnesota -- other than his first 0-0 tie here in 2000 and the 2004 All-Star Game.

Luongo hasn't finished his last three visits here, going 0-3 with a 7.00 GAA and .768 SP. Overall, he's 3-9-2 at the X with a 3.56 GAA and .873 SP.

What's more:

-- Zidlicky's 17th career 3-point game.

-- 12 guys got points, including amazingly Matt Cullen's 4th 2-point game in 5 games as a Wild. He leads the NHL with 7 power-play points and is a huge reason for tonight's 3 for 3 power play and the season's league-leading 11 for 24 power play.

-- Marty Havlat 2 assists, Antti Miettinen 2 assists, Guillaume Latendresse 1 and 1.

-- Brent Burns got 100th assist on an awesome headman pass on John Madden's goal.

OK, that's it. Now the Wild's got to string some wins together, Richards said, or it means nothing. Back-to-back games Thursday and Friday in Edmonton and Vancouver.

I've got an early flight. Richards scrapped practice tomorrow. The team's drained and sick, literally. I think he should bag them quite frankly.

Talk to you Wednesday after I land in Edmonton. Chance the Rypien news comes out while I'm in the air, so I'll be on in the afternoon.

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