For the third straight year the Wild and Blackhawks are squaring off in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Chicago has gotten the best of Minnesota the last two years and the Wild are hungry for revenge. Its safe to say in the last two meetings Minnesota's goaltending was suspect at best. Now that we're in the Devan Dubnyk era the Wild have that problem solved. Chicago has been through some goalie lapses this playoffs as they have cycled through Corey Crawford and Scott Darling in the round one with Nashville. Crawford will start game one as he does have success against the Wild in the playoffs owning a record of 8-3 with 1.66 goals against average. However Crawford has looked not looked himself and the Wild have a good chance to pour it on.
Minnesota should be trotting out the same lineup for game one. Matt Cooke looked more comfortable in game six and he'll be paired with Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine. Jason Zucker will stay on the third line with Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek. Vanek has been positive despite zero goals through the first six games. Nino and Chris Stewart are with captain Mikko Koivu. Good combination of size and grit. Koivu and Stewart were quiet but Nino scored three times in round one. Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund have been creating chance after chance. All three of them are the top three scorers for the Wild this postseason. Three different blue liners scored for the Wild so even if the forwards are not lighting the lamp, the Wild have been scoring from both ends of the ice.
The usual suspects of Jonathan Toews , Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith had seven points each in round one. Chicago certainly has the talent and the familiar names, but the Wilds strong defense have done a great job all season at limiting shots towards Doobie. Minnesota led the NHL with an 86.3% penalty kill rate this season and killed 9-11 of penalties against St. Louis. The Wild have had success on the power play owning a 33.3% (4-of-12) power-play success rate this postseason. Puck drop is at 8:30 tonight and the gamethread will open at 8:15. Go Wild!