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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Miettinen out, Scandella in, Theodore starts vs. the B's

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: January 6, 2011 - 12:53 PM

Afternoon from Beantown.

Did a sample survey this morning regarding the Andrew Prochno split puck. Matt Cullen, Andrew Brunette, Greg Zanon, Nick Schultz have never heard of such a thing or seen it. Cam Barker said it used to happen all the time playing outdoors, so his assumption is the puck was too frozen. He'd never heard of such a thing in an indoor rink.

Prochno's garnering national attention from this. Was on CNN's Headline News, Yahoo, Deadspin and of course, Russo's Rants (doesn't get any bigger than that).

If you get NESN, I'll be on with Mike Milbury during the Bruins' pregame show tonight. I plan to hit him with my loafers.

Quick update from the Wild's morning skate:

Antti Miettinen won't play tonight vs. the Bruins. It was clear to me he couldn't push very hard on his bruised leg. Coach Todd Richards said the hope is for him to play Saturday in Pittsburgh.

Marco Scandella will return to the lineup after being sick vs. Phoenix, scratched in New Jersey. Jared Spurgeon comes out. Scandella will skate with Barker, and Clayton Stoner and Greg Zanon, and Nick Schultz and Brent Burns will remain intact.

Jose Theodore will make his third straight start. Niklas Backstrom, who seemed to aggravate what's believed to be a groin injury when he was bumped in practice yesterday, "is not 100 percent" still, said Richards, so the coach said the decision was made easier,

If I had to guess, no matter what happens tonight, Theodore starts in PIttsburgh, giving Backstrom a few extra days to rest up and play at home in an early game in the second of back-to-backs at home Sunday vs. Dallas.

But that's a guess. We'll see Saturday in Pittsburgh, but with an early game in Minnesota the following night, I'd think you'd need two different goalies to start.

How about the West? Wild is two points back of eighth, four back of fourth in the ridiculous-tight conference.

I mentioned this on Twitter, but the first tiebreaker at the end of the year for a playoff spot is non-shootout wins. The Wild is 0-4 in shootouts, meaning of the seven current non-playoff teams in the West, the Wild's actually tied with Chicago for most non-shootout wins (19).

Richards talked about Patrick O'Sullivan today and his need to find consistency in his game.

O'Sullivan has taken off one optional morning skate (one of two players in Denver) and one optional practice since Dec. 23. Richards said he has to respect that if he says optional, he means optional. But he told the players yesterday to do what is necessary to get themselves ready for tonight's game, whether that means going on the ice yesterday or not. Richards admitted that he keeps notes on who takes optionals off (i.e. stores it away like all coaches), and those players like O'Sullivan better deliver in those cases.

If I were Patrick O'Sullivan, a guy that's been scratched, a guy that's been bought out in the NHL, a guy that's been traded, a guy that's been put on waivers, I'm probably thinking I'm not in a position to take optionals off. But that's just me.

I mean, Andrew Brunette rarely takes optionals off. Talk to you tonight.

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