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 vs. Blues: Two very different teams than six weeks ago

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: March 26, 2011 - 12:40 PM

Afternoon.

After three days off, the Wild hits the ice again tonight against the St. Louis Blues. It's the first half of the second home-and-home series of the season between the two teams.

The last time came Feb. 11 and 12 when the teams, who were both fighting for a playoff spot at the time, played six periods in a row in 24 hours. This time, there will be a few days between games. The Wild heads to St. Louis for a Tuesday game.

The Wild swept last month's home-and-home to move into 8th in the West and  improve to 30-20-5 for the season. Now, it's 11th in the West and 35-31-8. The Blues have changed a lot, too, a few days after the sweep from Minnesota trading Erik Johnson and Jay McClement to Colorado for Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk.

The Wild rallied four times from a goal down to win in a shootout Feb. 11, then beat St. Louis, 3-1, the next night at home. That game ended with Clayton Stoner opening up David Backes like a can of tomato sauce at the buzzer in the third fight of the game.

Marek Zidlicky will return to the Wild lineup tonight. Nate Prosser is scratched, and with Cam Barker close to a return, likely soon to be reassigned to Houston. John Madden, who blocked a shot off the foot yesterday, will play, as will Cal Clutterbuck, who's been under the weather.

Tonight is Cully's Kids night at the X. Several children from the Fargo/Moorhead area will be coming to the game, as well as the board. Cullen's father, Terry, will do Let's Play Hockey with Cullen's son, Brooks.

The kids will be sitting in two suites donated by Mikko Koivu, NIck Schultz and Niklas Backstrom, and Martin Havlat.

Check out the incredible work Cullen and his wife, Bridget, do at this link.

Have a good day.

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