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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And in the meantime, the Wild arrives in Edmonton

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: October 20, 2010 - 6:34 PM

Good evening from Edmonton, where I arrived three or four hours ago. Thank goodness NHL ice guru Dan Craig was on my flight. He used to be the Oilers' ice guy, and I changed hotels for this trip, I'm way out on the edge of town and I followed him to the new hotel.

Without Craig, I would have wound up in Saskatchewan.

So the Wild's arrived, every one of them despite the virus that's sweeping through the team. That doesn't mean everybody plays vs. the Oilers, but it does mean everybody's on the trip.

The theme of last night's postgame was Tuesday's big win over Vancouver means nada if the Wild goes into Edmonton and Vancouver and lays an egg. Coach Todd Richards talked afterward about how it's critical to string wins together in the NHL, and while the team showed a good response Tuesday, it's important for them to keep it going.

Every player said the same stuff after. So that's what my follow is about in Thursday's paper.

As for the Oilers, Magnus Paajarvi is expected to replace Taylor Hall of the first line with Jordan Eberle and Shawn Horcoff and Hall will drop to the third line to play with Alex Cogliano and Gilbert Brule.

Nikolai Khabibulin in goal. I'm guessing Niklas Backstrom gets the nod. As I mentioned the other day, Jose Theodore's numbers in Edmonton are actually worse than Backstrom, plus the Wild's coming off a big win, Backstrom's playing well and most coaches don't like to fiddle with the lineup after wins.

So I'd think Theodore starts in Vancouver. But I've been wrong before.

As for the Rick Rypien situation, as you saw on the last 2 blogs, he's been suspended indefinitely. TSN reports he'll meet with NHL Commish Gary Bettman and league discipline czar Colie Campbell in New York on Friday morning. I still think he gets nailed with close to 10 games, but we'll see.

I talked to the man he grabbed, and he certainly didn't ask to be cast into the public limelight. I know it suddenly seems to be fashionable to criticize the fan because he's seeking legal representation, but keep a little perspective. Rick Rypien caused this, and nobody else.

Never should a player touch a fan -- plain and simple.

I did want to clarify something on the previous blog. I said he hadn't heard from the Wild. He did initiate contact with Xcel Energy Center's senior director of operations, who referred him to NHL security.

As for the Canucks, I'm sure Rypien will keep quiet until he meets with the principal. Vancouver scribes were scheduled to meet with coach Alain Vigneault and GM Mike Gillis just before gametime in Chicago. I should be getting an email from one of the scribes soon, and if there's anything I feel I should pass along, I'll update the blog.

Have a good night.

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