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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Bouchard seeking "green light" to go to Houston; Gillies, Kassian to flip spots; Zidlicky hurt

Posted by: Michael Russo under Wild practice Updated: November 3, 2010 - 5:09 PM

Update: Matt Kassian officially recalled; Guillaume Latendresse placed on injured reserve with a groin injury.

Good afternoon from the X. The Wild had an optional skate today; 10 skaters, 2 goals.

Tonight, on 1500 ESPN, will be another edition of Russo Radio at 6:15, so tune in.

Pierre-Marc Bouchard met with the Wild doctors last night and said he's hoping to talk to GM Chuck Fletcher today and his neurologist, Colorado-based James Kelly, to get the "green light" to return. If he gets that green light, coach Todd Richards said the plan is for Bouchard to get into games on a rehab stint in Houston.

The timetable has not been revealed, but if it's immediately, Bouchard will get a nice taste of the minors. Check out Houston's upcoming schedule:

Fri 11/05 7:35PM Toronto Marlies

Sat 11/06 7:05PM @Oklahoma City Barons
Mon 11/08 9:00PM @Abbotsford Heat
Tue 11/09 9:00PM @Abbotsford Heat
Sat 11/13 7:05PM @Peoria Rivermen
Sun 11/14 3:05PM @Peoria Rivermen
 

"That’s what we’re waiting on is his conversation with the doctor," said Richards. "I think everybody’s comfortable where he’s at , but Butch has to be comfortable. Hopefully this conversation goes well and when the conversation’s over with that Butch feels confident and comfortable and then we’ll take the next step."

The Wild reassigned Colton Gillies to Houston after three scoreless games. Richards said the team will decide this afternoon which forward is recalled in Gillies' place for weekend games Friday against Calgary and Saturday in Columbus, but Matt Kassian has a stall already in the locker room. Kassian came with the Wild to Finland, but didn't make the opening night roster. If he plays this weekend -- and he should unless Antti Miettinen and Guillaume Latendresse make unexpected quick recoveries -- Kassian should make his NHL debut.

Bad news out of practice is defenseman Marek Zidlicky, who's been real good, has a lower body injury. He missed part of the game yesterday but did return. Richards said he's a question mark for the weekend and is day to day "we're hoping." Zidlicky didn't sound confident he'll be able to play. If he's out, Clayton Stoner will be back in.

The Wild played well in its own zone last night, but the reality is the Wild must start to play in the other team's zone. The Wild has seven goals in the last five games and has been outshot in every win this season and in 10 of 11 games. The Wild's power play is also on a 2 for 25 skid.

Richards says the injuries to Miettinen and Latendresse are big factors.

"I want to play in the offensive zone, but we're missing some key guys right now, too," said Richards. "We're missing some top-end forwards in our lineup. Now, we still have to find a way. We have to do a better job of winning the one-on-one's and getting the pucks to the net, because we can't be relying on Nik the way we've been relying on him.

"I think it is in the room. I think we do have it. But it's a commitment from the guys in doing certain things."

I did ask Richards why he hasn't used rookie Casey Wellman on the power play, just because he's been using John Madden (six career power-play goals) and Eric Nystrom (no career power-play goals).

"Casey's can be a power-play guy, but his play's got to back up getting out on the power play," said Richards. Richards said it comes down to "trust." In other words, he knows what he's going to get from the veterans over a young kid just trying to find his way.

Kent's got practice Thursday. Talk to you Friday.

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