By Michael Russo
Coming to you from my hotel room in Columbus, where I decided to drink plenty of fluids and not eat.
If I lose weight from this, the last 16 hours would be worth it.
I just got off the horn with Jacques Lemaire, who was nice enough to call me after the team got off the ice. He was happy I was nice enough to stay away from the team while ill. Of course, it was the bug running through the dressing room that made me ill, but hey, call it payback for some recent bad press (or “balanced” press, as I like to call it) and perhaps some upcoming balanced press.
In fact, to try to nip this thing in the bud, every Wild player got his own room here at the Columbus hotel last night, and again tonight. So not only is this a nasty stomach virus, it’s an expensive one at that.
I feel for the hotel guests who have to stay at this joint over the next week or so. It’s going to be like that Dustin Hoffman movie, “Outbreak.”
The good news is the virus didn’t make anybody miss practice (minus the injured Derek Boogaard and Niklas Backstrom, who was at the rink but given the day off).
Of course, this thing quickly strikes. For instance, Martin Skoula practiced Wednesday in Philly. He was even jovial, cracking jokes. And then, boom, Skoula was down for the count.
So let’s say, everybody’s day-to-day for tomorrow’s game against the Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets aren’t as fortunate.
You’ve got to feel for this team. It was running hot, having won four in a row in dominant fashion behind the great goaltending of Steve Mason. Now, check out the Jackets’ laundry list of injuries. Every player is supposed to be out tomorrow against the Wild: LW Rick Nash (knee), LW Kristian Huselius (concussion), C Derick Brassard (shoulder), D Rostislav Klesla (foot), LW Raffi Torres (knee), LW Jason Chimera (groin), C Jiri Novotny (concussion) and G Pascal Leclaire (ankle).
And then, to make matters worse, Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline just emailed me from Washington, where the Jackets play tonight. Mason, the star rookie goalie, is now questionable for tonight’s game against the Caps with “tightness” in his upper body.
Portzline called the Blue Jackets the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Jackets. Good line, Portzline. Use it.
The Wild may be playing the Syracuse Crunch tomorrow night.
Back to Lemaire’s call, he said the Wild “obviously” practiced the power play for the majority of practice today after going 0 for 8 last night in Philly. I talked to him a lot about Andrew Brunette, who’s supposed to call me this afternoon, and Mikko Koivu. Both have dried up.
Brunette has one goal and three assists in his past 16 games. Koivu has one goal and seven assists in his past 15 games.
Lemaire said the Wild had a team meeting before practice, and then again continued the seasonlong theme of GETTING THE PUCK TO THE NET. He said the Flyers tried to give the Wild the game last night, and the Wild refused to take it.
As good as the Wild power play’s been this season, it’s had a few games like this. Remember when it went 0 for 10 in a one-goal loss to Montreal?
Lastly, check this story out about Wayne Fleming being fired in the middle of a KHL game. I should go cover hockey in Russia. These are the type of stories I love.
Back to work.