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Wilderness Walk: Bring on the Blues

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The wait is finally over, and today the Wild engage the big, bad Blues for the first round of the 2015 Playoffs. This may be the most compelling series of the opening round, with both teams built for a deep playoff run.

It's time to rumble in St. Louis
It's time to rumble in St. Louis
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Wilderness got a taste of playoff hockey last night with some major storylines - a P.K. Subban possible suspension following game misconduct.  The Nashville Predators jumping out and scoring 3 in the first against Chicago, Chicago tying it up, and winning in the 2nd overtime.  The Calgary Flames scoring with under 30 seconds remaining to defeat the Canucks.  Needless to say, there was plenty of drama to set the stage for the first round.

But, It's all happening today for the Wild, who get down to business against the big, bad, St. Louis Blues.  There aren't many predictions that see this series ended in less than 6 games as the Central Division foes are both built for the postseason and provide a really compelling matchup.  Both teams have skill and depth, the Blues holding an edge in size and strength, the Wild in speed, execution and Devan Dubnyk.  The Blues have the recent history of losing twice in the first round, and Ken Hitchcock's job may hinge on the outcome of the series.  The Wild are the hottest second half team that recently tied the consecutive road win record, looking to build on a campaign that went into the second round last year.

The stage is set for the playoffs and for this series, which will definitely be competitive and memorable.  Lots of news to share, let's get to it.

Today's first musical selection features #OneOfUs Judy Garland calling us to St. Louis.

And a bonus selection to pump up the Wilderness.  To the playoffs we Walk:

Wild News

2014 St. Louis Blues vs. 2014 Minnesota Wild - Compare Stats, Leaders and Past Matchups
Stats, stats, stats then some more stats.  Awesome.

2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs: 5 things to know about Blues vs. Wild - CBSSports.com
So much national attention when you're in the playoffs

Minnesota's playoff novices ready for a Wild ride - TwinCities.com
A couple of key players are facing ramped emotions and the madness that is the postseason.  Life is good.

For Wild's Zucker, perfection is the goal | Star Tribune
Welcome back, Zucks.  So nice to see you.

Wild vs Blues: The Goaltenders - Minnesota Wild - Articles - Articles - Wild Xtra
A goalie faceoff from WildXtra

Wild notes: Coyle, Niederreiter aim to come up big again in playoffs | Star Tribune
Drawing on memories of huge plays last year, the #Dawghouse twins search for the next gear.

For Wild, power play still an unresolved flaw | Star Tribune
#DeclineThem

The Minnesota Wild Awards: Regular Season Edition
#OneOfUs Alli Baker doles out her Regular season awards at THW

End of the (Regular) Season Grading: Forwards - Articles - Articles - Homepage - Wild Xtra
WX Continues their series of regular season grading

Wild, Blues hurrying up and waiting; Matt Cooke misses practice | Russo's Rants | StarTribune.com
Will it be Carter?  Bergenheim?

Wild's Matt Cooke misses practice after winning job - TwinCities.com
Maybe no Darcy either, who is ill and has been separated from the team.

Behind Enemy Lines

Gordon: Hitchcock has good options : Sports
Blues offer solid choices in goal, on defense and up front.

Blues expected to disclose goalie today : Sports
Elliott or Allen will receive the Game 1 assignment the day before facing the Wild.

Stastny primed for Blues' playoff run : Sports
It took time for the former Colorado center to adjust, but he's improved his production and now feels comfortable in his hometown.

Backes of Blues, Blaine: Minnesotan not-so-nice | Star Tribune
He might be "one of us," but with David Backes, the second he laces up those skates, there’s no Minnesota Nice from the Blaine native and former Spring Lake Park High and Minnesota State Mankato standout

#BecauseItsTheCup

X-Factors: Western Conference Edition
Last year's ultimate X-Factor came out of the West when Justin Williams took home the Conn Smythe Trophy. Will any of these eight players do the same?

Michael Russo's Stanley Cup predictions | Star Tribune

Happy NHL Playoffs! Now Don’t Go Blaming the Refs...
The NHL playoffs are finally here, but that doesn't mean you should start blaming the refs for everything the goes wrong for your team.

Off The Trail

WATCH: P.K. Subban ejected for slashing Mark Stone - CBSSports.com
Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban was ejected in the second period of their playoff game on Wednesday night.

WATCH: Duncan Keith completes Blackhawks comeback with OT goal - CBSSports.com
Duncan Keith's goal in double overtime completed the comeback for Chicago on Wednesday night as they took Game 1 from the Nashville Predators.

Blackhawks' Patrick Kane says he'll play in Game 1 - CBSSports.com
Blackhawks star Patrick Kane says he will be in the lineup for Game 1 when the Chicago Blackhawks take on the Nashville Predators.

Recaps

NHL Recap - Chicago Blackhawks at Nashville Predators - Apr 15, 2015 - CBSSports.com
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Chicago Blackhawks could not have started worse giving up three goals on the first 12 shots, forcing coach Joel Quenneville to yank goalie Corey Crawford.

NHL Recap - Calgary Flames at Vancouver Canucks - Apr 15, 2015 - CBSSports.com
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) Even Bob Hartley is amazed by his Calgary Flames' resilience.

NHL Recap - Ottawa Senators at Montreal Canadiens - Apr 15, 2015 - CBSSports.com
MONTREAL (AP) Brian Flynn scored a tie-breaking goal late in the second period and the Montreal Canadiens held on to edge the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on Wednesday night in a wild opening game of their first-round playoff series.

NHL Recap - New York Islanders at Washington Capitals - Apr 15, 2015 - CBSSports.com
WASHINGTON (AP) Brock Nelson scored twice, Josh Bailey and Ryan Strome added goals, Jaroslav Halak made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series Wednesday night.