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What's Your Wild v Blues Series Prediction???

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Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff hockey is now underway and your favorite Wild squad will play in Game 1 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals against the St. Louis Blues. Media members all over have weighed in with their thoughts on the series with generally wide ranging opinions. Some have the Wild falling in four games while others have them going all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

So what does your favorite Hockey Wilderness writers think? We assembled the best hockey minds on the site and gathered all of our series predictions for your reading pleasure.

Alli Baker

Why the Wild win:

In my opinion, the Minnesota Wild can beat any team in the NHL right now, including the St. Louis Blues. I predict the Wild will win this series in six games because of outstanding goaltending, the return of Jason Zucker, and the determination this team has. They've come so far over the past three months and performing poorly in the playoffs would be a waste of all that hard work. This team is playing so well right now, I just don't see them being stopped by the Blues. They won the season series 2-1-1, and the Wild have been incredibly dominant on the road as of late. All the signs seem to point to Minnesota coming out of this series victorious.

Why the Wild lose:

Although I doubt the Wild will lose this series, anything is possible in the playoffs. The only reason I could see this team losing in the first round is if Dubnyk doesn't hold up, which I don't see happening. Injuries could cause trouble for Minnesota, but there's so much depth on this team, I honestly don't even know if that could stop them.

The only other thing I could think of might be this team's inability to stop Tarasenko and Schwartz, but I don't see that being a serious problem.

Prediction: Wild in 6 games

Barry Campbell

Why The Wild Win

Being in the playoffs means that your back is always against the wall, and that is when the Wild is at its best. They also begin the series on the road, where they have been so incredibly good since the all-star break, tying the NHL record for most consecutive victories on the road. They also have a meaningful win in Scottrade Center against the Blues on March 14th to draw memories from. The most recent loss on the last day of the season was completely meaningless. The key for me may lie in the PP, as the Blues take liberties and will spend time in the box. Figuring out the PP could end the series sooner. Overall, while the Blues are deep, the Wild are just as deep maybe deeper, and have the great Devan Dubnyk, who could contend for the Conn Smythe.

Why The Wild Lose

St. Louis is too big and skilled to think the Wild can put them down in 4 or 5 games. There are two key players for the Blues that could send the Wild home early if they have a good series. The first is Vladimir Tarasenko. If the Wild don't find a way to contain him early in the series, he could become the thorn in the side of epic proportions such as Patrick Kane or Bryan Bickell, who always find a way to be a factor against the Wild. The other is Jake Allen. Brian Elliot doesn't play well against the Wild and Allen has the ability to steal games, though he's very inconsistent. In a team sense, the Wild will also be in trouble if they try to match the physical game the Blues are sure to bring. The Wild has to take full advantage of its speed to beat the Blues

Prediction: Wild in 6

Alex Hennessey

Why the Wild Win

The Wild will win this series if they can take advantage of power plays. St. Louis has one of the highest averages in the league for penalties per-game. The Wild have a ton of talent on both power play units yet all season the power play has been a disappointment. If we advance in this series we have to be better on the power play. We need guys like Pominville and Suter to get pucks at the net, not over the net high and wide or into bodies, and Thomas Vanek has got to start shooting the puck when he has an opportunity. The Wild are a very composed team generally and St. Louis can be a bit undisciplined at times especially in the physical side of the game. This could work out in the Wild's favor if special teams are going, however, if the power play doesn't generate momentum then all the energy swings the Blues way. We start the series on the road and we are going to have to win on the road. A successful power play will go a long ways towards accomplishing that.

Why the Wild will Lose

Not enough secondary scoring. Last year in the playoffs guys like Haula, Coyle, Nino, Brodziak, Spurgeon were scoring huge goals for this team. St. Louis is going to focus on Parise, Pommer, Granny, Koivu offensively and we will need guys to step up from the lower lines to provide scoring depth if we want to win. Depth has been a strength of this team all season and it has to continue in the playoffs for us to be successful. Zucker, Nino, Coyle, Stewart, Vanek are going to have to be factors on offense.

Prediction: Wild win in 6

Dakota Case

Why the Wild win

The sensational story surrounding Minnesota and Devan Dubnyk this season wasn't just a feel-good story about a struggling goaltender in need of a fresh start single-handedly lifting the team to glory. It was also about how the proverbial shot in the arm of his arrival helped instill confidence in a team that so desperately needed it. Great teams trust in each other. Stanley Cup winning teams aren't made up of a bunch of players that don't like each other - they're built of a brotherhood formed in the heat of battle. Great teams play for each other, and have that faith, will, and determination to succeed, and that's what we've seen from this Wild club the latter half of the season. On a non-touchy-feely note, the return of speedy sniper Jason Zucker could be the dagger in the Blues' back as it gives head coach Mike Yeo a team five lines and four defensive pairings deep.

Why the Wild lose

The Blues have always been a tough team to play against. They historically have solid goaltending. They have one of the best defensive corps in the league with Kevin Shattenkirk, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester, and then managed to snag Zbynek Michalek from Arizona at the deadline. Up front, they've got David Backes, T.J. Oshie (#Merica), Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen and several key youngsters led by none other than the league's 10th leading scorer this season - Vladimir Tarasenko. You thought the Notes were tough enough without Tarasenko, they're even more formidable with him. They certainly won't make this series a cakewalk.

Prediction: This series will test Minnesota as much or more than last year's opening round against Patrick Roy's Avs. That said, with a healthy Zucker and Dubnyk in net, I'm going to have to say Wild in seven, but that doesn't mean the series couldn't as easily end with the Blues winning in six.

Tiffany McAnnany

Why the Wild Win
In January, I began to try to figure out which top ten draft eligible player the Wild should select. I thought they had no chance of making the playoffs. It seemed impossible. I gave up on this team, but they didn't quit. The Wild are a team that doesn't quit. They are a group that has skills, but also important - they believe.

Why the Wild Lose
The idea of Dubnyk getting injured is terrifying. Even though the Wild are carrying more goalies than any other team in the league, it just means they have more terrible goalies than pretty much any other team. The Wild seem to have their starter injured frequently in the playoffs, so I'm nervous. Can they store Dubnyk in bubble wrap when he's not on the ice? Can he play while packed in bubble wrap?

Prediction: Wild in 6 because they like to wait until their backs are against a wall to produce. The Blues also like to choke away 2 to 0 series leads.

Chris Boyd

Why the Wild will win

A combination of depth and style. The Wild have handled them before this season. The Blues are big and heavy, with some skill, but when the Wild roll their 4-line game, the Blues won't match up. Tarasenko and Backes are the biggest threats, whereas the Wild have Pominville, Parise, Niederreiter, Vanek, and Zucker all as scoring threats. Secondly, the Wild's blue line is simply superior. Furthermore, Dubnyk is a far better goalie than either of the Blues', and he will be a difference maker.

Why the Wild will lose

The Blues are big and heavy, and Yeo will fall into the trap of trying to out-Blues the Blues. Instead of speeding their game up and trapping the Blues in their own zone, the Wild try to out-muscle them and devolve the game to a series of board-battles, which they inevitably lose. Dubnyk and the blue line do their best, but with the style of play does not suit their personnel. Dubnyk is left out to dry by a battered and beaten defensive corps, and the Tarasenko-Backes-Statsny trio rips the Wild to shreds.

Prediction: Wild in 6

Joe Bouley

Why the Wild Win

Minnesota most definitely can play with the Blues. However, it will have to be playing their style of game rather than the Blues. Using the strong, defensive structured game to clog up the neutral zone, and exit the defensive zone efficiently will be key in this series. The Wild has better speed top to bottom than the Wild, and the team speed will have to even out the playing field talent-wise as the Blues do have the edge in that department. Minnesota is no slouch and can win the tightly defended games and will do so by making sure-handed plays with the puck and keeping both giveaways and sloppy passing to a minimum. Oh and shots. They win because they got tons of shots on the relatively shaky Jake Allen and Brian Elliott.

Why the Wild Lose

The Blues are the better puck possession team and they will have won because they completely suffocated the Wild in their end. Devan Dubnyk may be one of the best stories in the league, but he cannot stop 35-40 shots a game. Minnesota resorts to nothing but the dump 'n' chase method and the defensemen of the Blues are too good at exiting the zone so the offense all but dries up because they don't get any decent zone time or pressure.

Prediction: Blues in 7

Aaron Holm

Why the Wild win
It will not be an easy test, but the advantage for me and my homer like scorching hot-takes has to go with the Wild in this series. We're looking at speed and skill vs. size and skill. On paper these tend to cancel each other out over the course of a game. The distinct advantage however goes to the goaltending. The Wild are going to need to be as stingy as they ever have. Do I care if they get called a trap team? Hell-to-the-no! They cannot be drawn into a dog fight with these guys. Stick to the plan, roll all 4 lines, capitalize on the Blues mistakes, and use your speed to gain an extra edge.

Why the Blues win
It's pretty simple for the Blues. They need to wear the Wild down with their size. They will will not have to fear the Wild's power play like they might some other teams in the playoffs. So going a little over the line or playing dirty, while making them look like a bunch of assholes, could wreak havoc on a speedy, smaller Wild squad. In the later stages of a game, the Blues size would turn into an advantage as the physical nature of the game would take a toll on the Wild. Look for the Blues to bring a very physical game. They don't want another first round exit, and will be very hungry to extend their season.

Prediction:
In the end, the homer in me will not allow me to pick the Blues in this series. In fact, it won't allow me to give them much of a chance even. I'm predicting the Wild will finish this series in 5 games. It's the playoffs, so anything can happen but I think in the end the Wild have shown the kind of stamina late in games to push themselves over the edge against the Blues. Wild in 5, Blues may as well start booking tee times for Saturday, April 25th.

Dustin Nelson

Why the Wild Win

The Wild will win this series if they get outstanding goaltending from Devan Dubnyk, as they got late in the season. Strong defensive play, an ability to keep players on the outside of the offensive zone, and continued success on the penalty kill will counter weapons like Vladimir Tarasenko and T.J. Oshie. The team will need to get offensive contributions from players other than Pominville, Koivu, Parise, and Vanek. Goals are going to need to come from Jason Zucker (who is only secondary scoring if you aren't paying attention), Nino Niederreiter, Justin Fontaine, and Charlie Coyle. Mikael Granlund in particular needs to find his scoring touch. The Wild's late-season success on the road turns around an albatross for the team in recent years and in last year's postseason. They'll need to keep that success going. They'll be able to survive the power play not coming all the way around, but with the number of penalties the Blues take, they'll have a much better chance if they can make it happen.

Why the Wild Lose

The Blues will win if they can out-muscle the Wild along the boards and win possession battles in both zones. Their top three lines are formidable and if all three are clicking they're dangerous. The Blues outmatch the Wild in a lot of categories and they'll maintain an edge in the series if they can hang onto that advantage in things like faceoffs, possession, power play, etc. Every team that takes a series needs strong goaltending, but without a clear-cut number one in net, they really need Jake Allen to be solid so their goaltending carousel doesn't get spinning. Consistency will mean a lot to the Blues.

Prediction: I'm taking the Wild in 6, with the Wild winning two road games.

Tony Abbott

Why the Wild will win

Wingers like Parise, Zucker, Niederreiter, Stewart, and Haula will frustrate the Blues with their speed more than the Blues frustrate the Wild with their physicality. Koivu, Granlund, and Coyle (Pick two) will play at the top of their games. Dubnyk and that penalty kill keeps on ticking, stealing a game or two when the Blues otherwise dominated. Jordan Leopold and someone like Sean Bergenheim play well enough to force Yeo to resist playing more easily-exploited options in Nate Prosser and Matt Cooke.

Why the Wild will lose

The Blues will hammer the Wild physically, led by David Backes. The Blues will manhandle the Wild up the middle with their center depth, which features Backes, new playmaker Jori Lehtera, and Wild-killer from last year Paul Stastny. The Blues will do both those things, while being able to play the Wild's wings to a draw with skill guys in Tarasenko, Schwartz, and Oshie. Yeo and power play coach Andrew Brunette continually send out a bottom-3 PP vs. a top-10 PK, avoiding making any lasting or meaningful changes to it's personnel at all costs.

Prediction: Blues in 6. Special Teams and/or Dubnyk could swing this in the Wild's favor, but there's a reason why the Blues have consistently been dominant over the Wild. The Wild are more than good enough to make a deep Cup run (and I think the winner of this series makes the Conference Finals, easy), but the worst match-up possible means they get bounced early. At least we'll get that third home game.