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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Backstrom tonight, Theodore likely tomorrow; Eye-gouge claim from Rypien's camp

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road Updated: October 21, 2010 - 3:28 PM

Good afternoon from Edmonton, where it's turned into a gorgeous day.

Before I continue, I've got show you this report from Sportsnet that says a "member of the Canucks" claims "Rypien was eye-gouged for UP TO 10 SECONDS during his altercation with Brad Staubitz by the Wild bench."

I mean, I would hope this "member of the Canucks" who won't put his name to Dan Murphy's report is aware this entire scrum is on video, right???

Look below and tell me if you see an eye-gouge. Rypien, who starts the scrum by cross-checking Staubitz and incidentally suckers him on the chin while the linesman has Staubitz restrained, and Staubitz aren't even face-to-face for anything close to 10 seconds.

In fact, look closely, and you'll see Staubitz's right glove never comes off and while his left glove does come off for a few seconds late and is out of sight in at least this angle, it doesn't look like any eye gouging taking place to me and if there was, it certainly wasn't "up to 10 seconds."

So unless linesman Don Henderson is the one doing the eye gouging with his right hand there for several seconds when he and Rypien are to the right side of the Wild bench (I'll go on the side that Henderson is not) or there's a second eye gouger hiding in the grassy knoll, I'd call this report, "Bogus" and say it's a poor excuse by a member of the Canucks who's trying to condone Rypien suckering a player, wrestling with an official and making physical contact with a fan.

And, ......onward:

Niklas Backstrom gets the nod tonight. Coach Todd Richards said Jose Theodore probably makes his first start tomorrow night in Vancouver. I'd say it's all but a certainty unless Backstrom pitches an eight-save shutout tonight and doesn't break a sweat.

Same exact lineup tonight for the Wild. Still some guys feeling the effects of the illness going through the team, but I believe all players got their own rooms last night here in Edmonton and seem to be recouping.

I'll be writing about the Edmonton-born Staubitz in tomorrow's notebook. Talked to him about getting under Rypien's skin (not the eyes) and how this is the type of stuff the Wild was hoping for. The Wild respected Derek Boogaard, but they felt nobody would fight him anymore and felt they needed to get guys who could get others to actually engage with them to help turn momentum in games.

Interesting stat about Boogaard: Two of his nine fights last year were on the road. Why? Not because Boogaard didn't have the guts to fight in away buildings. Because opposing coaches, when they had the last change, would rarely line up fourth line against fourth line like Todd Richards was able to do at home.

No, in say Vancouver, Alain Vigneault would wait for Boogaard's line to come out on the ice and make an immediate change, throwing the Sedins out. Let's just say, not a good matchup for the Wild. So the fourth line would face the first or second lines of other teams on the road, PLUS I'm fairly sure Henrik Sedin's not fighting Boogaard.

This is a big reason why the Wild wanted to make a change and get more players that could play a regular shift and add toughness and actually get somebody on the other team to drop the gloves with them.

More on that tomorrow.

Big talk at Rexall Place today was the Wild's power play and how Edmonton's going to stop it after giving up four power-play goals to the Wild one week ago. Coach Tom Renney joked he was considering playing all three of his goalies at the same time and said the biggest ally will be staying out of the penalty box.

Talk to you after the game. 

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