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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Morning skate update: Wellman to get good chance tonight

Posted by: Michael Russo Updated: September 24, 2010 - 12:34 PM

Good afternoon from MSP, where the howling wind should make for a delightful takeoff inside my regional jet.

Just raced down to the X for the morning skate before my flight to St. Louis. The 22 players, coaches, GM and his merry men, training staff , broadcasters and one very ecstatic PR guy leave about an hour after me.

Unless somebody tweaks something stepping off the plane (Hey, it's possible. Sandis Ozolinsh once did it, although he tweaked his face falling head-first down the steps at Ft. Lauderdale Airport) or eats some bad sushi, Jon DiSalvatore and Maxim Noreau will be transcribing tape for me in the press box tonight.

The first two lines tonight will be Guillaume Latendresse-Matt Cullen-Casey Wellman and Eric Nystrom-Kyle Brodziak and Antti Miettinen.

The other two forward lines will consist of Cody Almond, Brett Bulmer, Colton Gillies, Matt Kassian, Carson McMillan and Warren Peters.

The D pairs will be Greg Zanon-Marek Zidlicky; Cam Barker-Nate Prosser; Tyler Cuma-Clayton Stoner.

Josh Harding for 2 periods; Matt Hackett for 1.

Obviously a huge opportunity for Wellman, whom I've written ad nauseam this camp will likely only make the team if he's to get quality ice time and not be a four- or five-minute guy or extra. The Wild wants to ensure he'll get the best opportunity possible to play with top players, so he'll be on the right side of what tonight will be labeled the Wild's No. 1 line.

Remember, tonight's game will be televised on Ch. 45. Be sure to also follow @russostrib on twitter.com for play-by-play, updates and shrewd (cynical) comments.

Come back later for a post-game blog and hopefully I'll also receive the lineup for tomorrow's game vs. the big, bad Philadelphia Flyers.

With three games in three nights (Wild plays in Montreal on Sunday), some guys will have to play back-to-back.

There will be roster cuts Monday. Actually, it'll be more like a mass exodus as the Wild comes oh-so close to its final roster heading into the final two exhibition games at on this continent against Columbus before heading east to the homeland of Erik Haula, Mikael Granlund and a few others.

OK, I need some coffee. Later

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