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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Cuma in for injured Lundin; Tons of Wild-Oilers storylines

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild pregame skate, Wild training camp Updated: September 20, 2011 - 3:41 PM

Chance the stream of the game will be blacked-out outside Edmonton. If that's the case, the game will on KFAN and on twitter.com/russostrib. I will be so descriptive in my tweets, you'll think you're actually in Edmonton with me 

Good afternoon from spectacular Edmonton, where the weather out looks just incredible through my hotel-room window.

Off to a good, rookielike start on my first road trip of the season. No toothbrush or razor.

Wild faces the Oilers tonight at Rexall, and you can get live updates at twitter.com/russostrib and/or watch at edmontonoilers.com. Edmonton's got a split-squad going, with the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan Smyth, Jordan Eberle trio making their debut as a line in Saskatoon against the Blackhawks. Head coach Tom Renney will also coach that game.

The Oilers here tonight will be coached by Ralph Krueger, who coached that competitive Swiss team at the 2010 Olympics.

The top line tonight? Former Wild players Eric Belanger and Ryan Jones with some stiff named Taylor Hall. Nice to catch up with Belanger, who went on and on about how Hall's the real deal.

The second line will be all Swedish. The top defense pair? Bloomington's Tom Gilbert with Lucky No. 13 Cam Barker, who was bought out July 1 by the Wild and quickly signed with the Oilers. Either way Barker would have had to play an old team today with the Oilers also playing Chicago, so he's happy to get the Wild game out of the way.

Nikolai Khabibulin in goal.

Other Minnesota-Edmonton ties: Andy Sutton plays for the Oil now. Lance Pitlick's nephew, Tyler Pitlick, will wear an Oiler sweater for the first time against his hometown Wild. Oh, and former North Star Frank Musil's kid, David, will play. David Musil is wearing No. 87 much to his chagrin because his teammates keep calling him, "Sidney."

As for YOUR Wild, big storylines tonight as Mike Yeo coaches the Wild for the first time.

Four Wild players are coming off significant injuries.

--Josh Harding will start his first game in 362 days after a torn ACL/MCL, and if you didn't see the story I did today on Harding, here's the link

--Tryout defenseman Jordan Hendry will be playing his first game since tearing his ACL while a Blackhawk on Feb. 29

--Guillaume Latendresse, who played 11 games last year, will be playing his first game since being shut down after that short-lived three-game return in March.

--And Tyler Cuma, only here because of insurance, will play his first game (other than Traverse City) since tearing his ACL at the X in a Houston-Peoria game Feb. 13. Mike Lundin is having back spasms, so they don't want to risk it.

Other things to watch:

--Nate Prosser wants to make a run for a roster spot. He made his NHL debut in Edmonton two Aprils ago and was awesome in that game. He had a great playoff last year for Houston and wants to make his presence felt tonight to earn another look in the preseason.

--Fridley's Jarod Palmer will play his first-ever game in a Wild uniform and said he walking on air this morning.

--Look for a Matt Kassian-Darcy Hordichuk tilt tonight. Why? 1) Kassian wants to make a statement to the highers-up that he deserves a shot at this team and can bring toughness. 2) Kassian is from Edmonton, has never played professionally here and has a ton of friends and family here. 3) Hordichuk was two feet off the ice before he came up to me to try to get every detail he could about Kassian. I just said he's one tough son of a gun. I like Hordy, have known him forever, but no scouting reports from moi. Also, Hordichuk was supposed to go to Saskatoon, but he was a late addition for tonight's game because Ben Eager is hurt.

--The Wild unveiled its power play for the first time at the morning skate, and there's a ton of motion with and without the puck. Look for Pierre-Marc Bouchard to play the point this season, although with the rotation in the power play, pretty much every skater could play the point at some point during the power play.

The units tonight:

Uno: Latendresse-Matt Cullen-Cal Clutterbuck-Bouchard-Jared Spurgeon

Dos: Brett Bulmer-Kyle Brodziak-Palmer-Hendry-Prosser/Cuma

Talk to you tonight.

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