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 hits the Ivy League for some schooling

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: January 5, 2011 - 3:04 PM

Afternoon from Boston, where everybody sounds like Star Tribune sports editor Glen Crevier.

It's unnerving.

Tune in for "Russo Radio" tonight at 7 p.m. CT on 1500 ESPN.

 

 

The Wild attended Hahvahd for an afternoon practice at Bright Hockey Center, home of Alexander Fallstrom, the Swedish-born, former Shattuck-St Mary's forward drafted by the Wild and eventually traded to the Bruins for Chuck Kobasew.

Kobasew, who played one year at Boston College, where he won the Beanpot and some other somewhat major tournament by beating North Dakota, will play in Boston on Thursday for the first time since being traded to Minnesota in October 2009.

He said playing Calgary, the team that drafted him 14th overall, so many times  with the Wild has prepared him for the Bruins game.

The Wild, incidentally, has never lost in Boston (5-0). Of course, it never won in New Jersey.

It was my first time ever on the Harvard campus. I felt even dumber than usual. What beautiful facilities over in the sports complex of Harvard. Next up, I want the Wild to practice at MIT so I can track down the blackjack card counters from the book, "Bringing Down the House."

It took Brent Burns, Nick Schultz and Martin Havlat 45 minutes to get from their Boston hotel to Harvard's campus, which is roughly 5, maybe 10 minutes away. Their cabbie got "lost." Mine did, too, coincidentally as usual from Logan Airport to my hotel this morning. He suddenly found his way after I introduced the real Michael Russo to him.

Amazing how many cab drivers don't know their way around Boston.

The Wild had an optional practice over there at Hahvahd. About 13 fellas hit the ice at what Eric Nystrom called the "Michigan of the East." Antti Miettinen wasn't one of them. Miettinen, who has a charleyhorse, got treatment, rode the bike and plans to skate at the morning skate to see if he can play vs. the Bruins.

Coach Todd Richards, who said he's the only one on his staff who could have been schooled at Harvard  , said with the Bruins being a big team up front, Marco Scandella will likely re-enter the lineup. That should mean Jared Spurgeon's out. Scandella may be paired with Cam Barker because Richards likes the Clayton Stoner-Greg Zanon pair and Schultz and Burns are typically partners except for the few games Scandella's played with Burns.

We will see.

Richards said he hasn't made a decision as to who will start in goal. Both Jose Theodore and Niklas Backstrom have great numbers vs. Boston, and Pittsburgh, for that matter.

Against the Bruins, Backstrom is 3-0-1 with a 1.23 GAA, a .955 SV% and one shutout in four starts against Boston. His numbers in Boston are 2-0 with a 0.50 GAA, a .983 SV% and one shutout.

Theodore is 13-12-3 with a 2.42 GAA, a .921 SV% and two shutouts in 28 starts. Theodore is 7-0-1 in his last eight starts overall against the Bruins with a 1.87 GAA and a .936 SV%. His last eight starts in Boston, he's 6-0-1 with a 1.71 GAA, a .945 SV%, and one shutout.

Backstrom is 3-0 with a 1.62 GAA and a .949 SV% in three starts against Pittsburgh. Theodore
is 18-4-3 with a 2.41 GAA, a .914 SV% and one shutout.

WHAT TO DO?

As I told ya yesterday, I'm writing about Burns for tomorrow and the season he's having and how that could impact his long-term future with the Wild. The Wild will look to sit down with Burns after the season to see if it can sign him to a long-term extension.

Burns wants to stay in Minnesota long-term, so we'll see if that happens.

That's it from here. Jed Ortmeyer, signed by the Wild on Tuesday, did clear waivers and was officially assigned to Houston.

Got some questions, not that this is a big deal at all since we're talking a few thousands dollars, but he did not count toward the Wild's salary cap yesterday. Why? All contracts have to be approved in the NHL. So he did not count against the Wild's active roster or the cap while his contract was going through the approval process. Once approved, you can immediately loan him without him counting against the cap assuming he clears waivers, which he did.

OK, going to write, then maybe get some chowdah.

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