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 readying to hit the ice again

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: January 22, 2011 - 5:05 PM

After a couple days of soaking in the weather, it's back to work tonight for the Wild in San Jose.

Both the Wild and Sharks carry three-game winning streaks into the contest, with the Sharks coming off a shootout win in Vancouver on Thursday and the Wild coming off a shutout in Calgary on Wednesday.

Lots of kudos being thrown Minnesota's way by the Sharks this morning, from All-Star defenseman Dan Boyle, whom I covered in Florida before he was a star, to coach Todd McLellan, who said the Wild seems to have found its game, is defending well and won the "blue-paint battle" in its two wins this season over San Jose.

As Boyle said this morning, Niklas Backstrom was pretty good, too. Backstrom posted a 36-save, 1-0 win over San Jose Nov. 2 and a 29-save, 5-3 win Dec. 29.

McLellan also said, "We're well aware 3's the magic number for them." When the Wild scores three goals, they almost always win.

Boyle continues to be a great story. Undrafted out of Miami of Ohio, he comes to Florida and was in and out of the lineup. Rick Dudley acquired him from cross-state Tampa for a FIFTH-ROUND pick. All Boyle did there was become a superstar offensive defenseman and Stanley Cup winner.

Dudley would later become Florida's GM. I once asked Dudley what's the stupidest trade he ever made: "Traded for Dan Boyle," he said, the obvious joke being that if Dudley doesn't trade for him in Tampa, he would have had him in Florida.

John Madden is a game-time decision today with a lower-body injury. He said he'll try it in warmups. If he can't play (I bet he does), Cody Almond will get in. Clayton Stoner is fine and knows he was lucky. If he doesn't curl his head, "I could have broken my neck." Several players in the Wild room were fuming over Curtis Glencross' recklessness and are ticked at the NHL's light message of a $2,500 fine.

I'll be interested to see if anybody challenges Jamie McGinn tonight. He's the player that checked Marek Zidlicky and separated his shoulder last month. I still don't know what I think of the hit. It wasn't a penalty, but I do think McGinn should have laid off because he had Zidlicky in a vulnerable position. Zidlicky was reaching up to catch a puck by the Sharks' bench and McGinn nailed him.

What else? Marco Scandella's bike ride went well and he was supposed to skate today back in Minnesota. If all goes well, he should be back by after the All-Star break. Talked to Chuck Fletcher yesterday. Guillaume Latendresse is supposed to see his surgeon during the All-Star break or after to get clearance to ramp up his workouts and begin skating. The Wild hopes he'll be back by mid-March, hopefully sooner.

How about the Houston Aeros? They've won six out of seven and are one point from top-spot Peoria in the AHL's Western Conference. The standings are tighter in the AHL West than even the NHL West. Seventh-place San Antonio is 2 points from 1st in the conference!

I had a great interview with Logan Couture today, the potential Rookie of the Year. He's scored 21 goals already, which is not only tops among all rooks, but top-10 in the NHL. Great kid, great interview. I'll be doing a column on him for Versus.com, but in tomorrow's Strib, he had some good stuff to say about his former Ottawa 67s teammate, Wild prospect Tyler Cuma, and he was funny about Jordan White, the University of British Columbia goalie the Sharks had to pick up for a one-day tryout to back up Niemi against Vancouver the other day. White gave the Sharks a pregame pep talk that Couture rehashed for me. Very good stuff.

Mikko Koivu hopes to watch his brother's ceremony in his first return to Montreal today. I have some good stuff from Jose Theodore on Saku that should be in tomorrow's Strib.

Talk to you after tonight's game.

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