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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Noreau "98 percent sure" he's making NHL debut; Kobasew, Schultz expected to return

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate Updated: April 8, 2010 - 2:53 PM

Good day from Calgary, where the Wild and Flames clash tonight in a non-playoff meeting. A Wild win, and the Wild sweeps Calgary in Calgary yet still won't make the playoffs.

Who woulda thunk? I'll be real interested to see the Flames' effort tonight. Most in the media is expecting them to lay an egg in its first game since missing the postseason and with GM Darryl Sutter and coach Brent Sutter potentially on the cutting block.

The local newspapers hit the Sutter Bros. hard today.

Defenseman Nick Schultz (leg) and winger Chuck Kobasew (knee) are expected to return tonight, but forwards Guillaume Latendresse, Marty Havlat and Owen Nolan are out. So is defenseman Marek Zidlicky.

So even coach Todd Richards had no clue as to the Wild's line combinations tonight. It sounds like John Scott will play forward, but Richards also called him the seventh D and said Nate Prosser would play. But Maxim Noreau says assistant coach Dave Barr told him he was "98 percent sure" he'd be making his NHL debut, so somebody's going to have to be out.

Stay tuned.

Noreau made sure his parents had the Center Ice package working tonight so they could watch.

Noreau said he attended the Aeros' morning skate yesterday and assistant coach Troy Ward was having him take power-play shots from a different angle than he normally does.

"I was like, 'Am I changing spots? Do you want to move me because the power play is struggling,'" Noreau said. "He's like, 'Oh yeah, I'm going to move you, but you're not going to be here.' I didn't read anything into it. I didn't even pack my equipment. I just went home and sat on the couch and [Houston GM] Jim Mill called and said, 'Don't you think you need your equipment Your flight's at 6:15.' I realized [Ward] wasn't joking around in the morning. So I had to go back to the rink and get my stuff."

Talk to you tonight.

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