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WCQF Game 5 Preview: Wild @ Blues

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Looking to shake off an ugly game four, Minnesota is back in St. Louis with the series tied at two.

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Wild look to put a disgusting Game Four performance to rest and are looking for another big win on the road. Devan Dubnyk will be back in the net after playing his worst game in a Wild sweater. It was an ugly game overall but as coach Mike Yeo said, its a seven-game series for a reason and they cant look at just one bad game. Matt Cooke will dress tonight and take Sean Bergenheim's spot on the 4th line with Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine. Yeo was expected to change up the lines but it seems Cooke is really only change.

Nino Niederreiter was not at morning skate at first which was certainly a surprise to some, but he eventually made it out there and skated with Coyle and Vanek. Other then Nino's empty netter, that line has scored zero times this series. Mikko Koivu and Chris Stewart have also been held scoreless. The same top-nine were together by the end of practice despite some different looks at the beginning of practice. Jordan Leopold will stay with Matt Dumba, meaning Nate Prosser will stay in the press box.

Minnesota must find a way to slow down Vladimir Tarasenko, who is just lighting up the Wild with 5 goals so far this series. Even though St. Louis had one of the best power plays this season, Minnesota's penalty kill is 6-7 so far this postseason. St. Louis center Jori Lehtera is 50-50 according to Ken Hitchcock (via Michael Russo) and he did not participate in morning skate. Lehtera has had great chemistry with Tarasenko, and has won 60% of his faceoffs this postseason, so it would be a big loss for St. Louis if he can't go.

The Wild are looking for its first 3-2 series lead in playoff history. Game Five has not been too kind to the Wild in recent years and it's imperative that the Wild head back to St. Paul up 3-2. Even with their success in Game Sevens, St. Louis is a great team, and the Wild should not leave anything to chance, if they can avoid it. Puck drop is 8:30 with the gamethread opening at 8:15. Go Wild!

Some Thoughts on Matt Cooke from Tony Wiseau

Hey, guys! Had some thoughts that weren't covered in the preview, but not enough for a full article.

As the preview above stated, the Wild are benching Sean Bergenheim to place Matt Cooke back into the lineup. This is, of course, really dumb.

There's no kneed need for Matt Cooke in the lineup. I wrote about this about three weeks ago:

As much as you hate to say this about a guy under contract for next year, there's not really a fit for Cooke in this Wild lineup as constructed. The Wild have been so successful with having scorers in Fontaine and Schroeder fill that bottom-6 winger role in Cooke's absence. Cooke can't play center like Brodziak and Carter. Cooke doesn't bring the possession game that Bergenheim does. Cooke doesn't have that sheer speed nor upside that Haula brings.

No one wants to see a player lose his job to injury, but when you look at what his competition brings to the rink, it's entirely understandable to come to the conclusion that the way Cooke can be of most help to this team is by sitting in the press box in lieu of a superior teammate.

This exact line of reasoning still applies today. We saw Cooke get a chance in Game 2 to show that he had anything, and he didn't do anything with his shot. His skill-set is out-classed by those who are sitting in the press box so he can play, whether the role you want filled is scoring (Jordan Schroeder), defense/toughness/penalty-killing (Ryan Carter), or a mix of the two with playoff experience, to boot (Bergenheim). It's baffling that Cooke would be the person to get the nod, especially after one underwhelming game, already.

This isn't incredibly likely to be a move that determines whether the Wild win or lose- we're talking a fourth-line winger that's only going to play ~10 minutes or so- but I can't possibly think of a good, reasonable argument that Cooke should be in the lineup for any of the players he is sitting for. However small the impact actually is, it can't be argued that Yeo is downgrading his team's odds of winning just by putting Cooke into the lineup. And against a dangerous team like the Blues, the Wild to do whatever they can to gain even the slightest advantages possible.