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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Schultz, minus some chicklets, practices; Miettinen returns

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: November 8, 2010 - 2:06 PM

The Wild, fresh off winning its third in a row and taking Sunday off, returned to practice this morning at Xcel Energy Center. They played a full 4-on-4 scrimmage, basically a competition, with Marty Havlat's team winning after Havlat scored a pretty sick backhanded roof job on Jose Theodore for a red-jersey win.

It was a fun practice put on by coach Todd Richards, full of laughs, hoots and ribbings. Basically, you could tell the Wild's won three in a row and sits 2 points from division-leading Vancouver and in sixth place in the West.

Richards, who's been pretty awesome after games lately with profound comments and funny quips, was terrific today talking about the state of the team and its resiliency. Remember, with so many injuries and so much pressure on the team after a winless preseason, it would have been easy for this team to cave early.Richards also seems to be pushing all the right buttons lately. I'll get into that in Tuesday's Star Tribune article.

Antti Miettinen returned to practice after missing five games with a concussion. He looked awesome, or as he joked, "well-rested." Miettinen is another example of how concussion symptoms often come well after the hit. See: St. Louis' David Perron.

After being hit in the head by L.A.'s Dustin Brown, Miettinen finished the game and practiced the next day. But the next morning, Miettinen's room was spinning and he was stumbling when putting on his shoes.

Miettinen "looked great" in practice, according to Richards, but Miettinen won't be able to pronounce himself good to go until he sees how he feels Tuesday morning. Right now he said he was symptom free.

The No. 1 line's been going well since Miettinen was hurt, whether it's been Chuck Kobasew there or Cal Clutterbuck or Havlat. I asked Richards if he'd consider keeping Clutterbuck on the No. 1 line and maybe try Miettinen with Matt Cullen and Havlat or put Casey Wellman in that No. 2 LW spot and put Miettinen on the right side of Eric Nystrom and John Madden.

"We'll wait and see," said Richards. "We've got to see how Miets is. He's missed some time, and the conditioning. You play that line, and Mikko and Bruno, and whoever's on that right side, you use them power play and 5-on-5, pretty regular. They're logging big minutes, tough minutes. So we'll have to wait and see how Miets fits in. ... We're all hoping he's good for Thursday, but we just don't know yet."

The other thing is, maybe Kobasew returns. He's missed two games with a groin injury but may practice Tuesday. If Miettinen returns and Kobasew doesn't, the Wild likely calls up a forward again (I think Matt Kassian). If both return, the Wild doesn't need to call up a forward. If both can't play Thursday, the Wild will need to recall two forwards.

Guillaume Latendresse (groin, hip flexor) is still a ways away from returning, but he is working out again, Richards said.

Defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who missed Saturday's game with a leg injury, didn't practice Monday but may practice Tuesday.

Nick Schultz, the Wild's all-time leader with 620 games, practiced after missing the final 10:35 of Saturday's game. A Kyle Wilson shot ramped up Schultz's stick and clanked Schultz in the nose and mouth.

Schultz had seven or eight stitches on the right side of his nose, three or four on the bottom right of his lower lip. He also lost three teeth. One fully, the other two shaved in half or nearly all the way. He had three root canals yesterday, Schultz said, but he still practiced today.

Schultz was left with a lisp. He was still pretty numb, so folks were having fun at his expense, trying to get him to say, "Sally sells seashells down by the seashore." 

Schultz was excited because he said his old teeth were crooked.

"I get three brand new, fresh, straight teeth soon. If you've got crooked teeth, it's a good way to fix them -- get them knocked out."

What else?

-- I put this stuff on Twitter, but Brent Burns' two-goal game Saturday was the 14th by a Wild defenseman and first since Marc-Andre Bergeron in April 2009. Burns also is tied with Atlanta's Dustin Byfuglien for first in the NHL in defensemen goals with five.

-- If you never got to see Cal Clutterbuck take out two guys on one hit and score the winning goal instants later the other night, here's the link

-- Eden Prairie's Chad Rau, who plays in Houston, is out 'til early December with a broken jaw, Aeros GM Jim Mill said. Also I believe Tyler Cuma is still out with a stress fracture in his foot.

-- GM Chuck Fletcher is in Toronto to attend tonight's Hall of Fame induction. Fletcher was Florida's assistant GM when Dino Ciccarelli played there. Fletcher is also on an AHL committee that met today with AHL Commissioner Dave Andrews and NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and on Tuesday, the NHL's GM's convene. They'll talk about Kenny Holland's 3-on-3 overtime proposal (after 4-on-4 and before shootouts) and Dale Tallon's coach's challenge proposal.

Kent Youngblood's got practice Tuesday and Wednesday as I get out of town early, so he's also got the blog keys. Next blog from me will likely be Thursday after the morning skate.

Next Russo Radio on 1500 ESPN, I believe, will be Wednesday night.

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