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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Zidlicky unchained, will return to the lineup tonight at Dallas

Posted by: Michael Russo under On the road, Wild pregame skate Updated: February 4, 2012 - 2:10 PM

Afternoon from chilly Dallas, where I'm lethargic. Thought you'd want to know.

Also had a harrowing plane experience here last night. After holding for awhile over Lubbock, Texas, because of weather and the pilot getting on the loud speaker telling us he "thinks" we have enough fuel to keep circling, we were sent on our merry way into Dallas.

On United, Channel 9 allows you to listen in to the cockpit and its conversations with Air Traffic Control. During our descent, every plane in front of us reported continuous moderate turbulence to ATC. They weren't kidding. We bounced around the sky like few other rides of my life.

We were diving and jerking and hitting air pockets. It was crazy stuff. Finally as we hit final, a few thousand feet off the ground, we had a bird strike. The plane banked a bit left, started revving and the pilot immediately reported it to ATC. We landed hard but safely. Was an excruciating final 15 minutes.

Even two off-duty pilots who sat in the seats behind me were going on and on about the approach after we landed. The pilot came on and apologized.

All in all, difficult day on the beat. Flight cancellation, pulled off the active runway in Denver just as we were going to take off because of a warning light, one wheel popped off my computer bag, my hotel couldn't find my reservation, then put me into a room that was occupied. Fun day.

Thank goodness this stretch of 20 of 29 games on the road that began in late November ends Tuesday in Columbus.

I'm road weary.

Marek Zidlicky will be unleashed tonight against the Dallas Stars. Clayton Stoner is limping around pretty good and will miss tonight's game. Zidlicky, scratched four games in a row and having made his displeasure heard, will be back and reunited with former partner Greg Zanon.

Mike Lundin is scratched, along with Matt Kassian, as Brad Staubitz returns after being scratched in four in a row. Yeo explained that Kassian couldn't find any customers last time the two teams played (i.e. Steve Ott).

Erik Christensen will wear No. 26 and debut between Darroll Powe and Carson McMillan. Yeo said he'll pay attention to Christensen to see if he needs to manage his ice time and playing the system the right way. After all, he hasn't played an NHL contest since Dec. 17.

The Wild catches Dallas without Brenden Morrow. Former Wild Eric Nystrom takes his place on the second line with Mike Ribeiro.

Late 7:16 p.m. puck drop tonight as the Stars honor Eddie Belfour for the 58th time -- or at least second in a row when we're here.

Wild looks to snap a 14-game winless streak tonight. Yeo told me, "This afternoon, we're looking for a live chicken, getting a few candles, some incense."

Wild wins tonight -- mark my words. I will see a Wild win in Dallas for the first time since I'm the beat writer.

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