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Wilderness Walk: Playoffs Begin

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The Wild begin their playoff series with the Jets north of the Wall and some other news to pass the time until the puck drops

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Winnipeg Jets James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

And so it begins.

The Minnesota Wild are on the road to face the Winnipeg Jets to begin the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Almost everyone outside of Wild fans are picking the Jets to triumph over the Wild. It’s not without reason, the Jets have one of the best records in the entire league, have a lot of talent throughout the lineup, and the Wild are banged up right now. So the Wild are understandably viewed as underdogs.

That’s just fine. Pre-series hype doesn’t mean the Jets don’t still have to beat this team four times to advance. It doesn’t mean that the Wild don’t have multiple guys enjoying career seasons, or that the Wild are proven playoff warriors familiar with the playoff grind. It just means more people have picked the Jets in their playoff bracket.

I expect a hardfought series regardless of the end result. Playoff hockey brings some of the best action of the year. Let’s get ready to enjoy it!

Wild News

Wild must keep track of Jets' Patrik Laine and his prime shooting spots - StarTribune.com
North Score: Patrik Laine, who is only 19, scored 44 goals in his second season. He scores goals differently depending whether he is on the power play or skating 5-on-5.

Wild embraces new role in playoffs: Underdog - StarTribune.com
One year after being a heavy favorite, Wild enters postseason as the underdog

Scoggins: Meter is running on Wild during these NHL playoffs - StarTribune.com
Beginning Wednesday, the Wild enters its sixth consecutive playoff appearance. None have extended beyond the second round. The past two trips ended in the first round.

Stanley Cup preview: Does the Wild have what it takes for a playoff run? - StarTribune.com
Jared Spurgeon's return could be a key factor for the Wild as it seeks to upend the Jets in the first round Stanley Cup series.

John Shipley: Wild's playoff mission is difficult but not impossible
Playoff expectations for the MN Wild are low, but in the postseason for the sixth consecutive season, Minnesota knows what's required better than their opponent, the Winnipeg Jets.

Wild's Jared Spurgeon practices but remains game-time decision for Game 1
MN Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon, out since partially tearing a hamstring in a March 13 loss at Colorado, practiced full on Monday and Tuesday but remains a game-time decision for Game 1 of the NHL playoffs Wednesday at Winnipeg.

NHL playoffs: Can Zach Parise carry Wild on his surgically repaired back?
Watching Zach Parise skate up and down the ice the past month for the Minnesota Wild, it is hard to believe that he started this season having to lie down to eat his meals. At 33, he could barely stand, much less walk, without excruciating pain. Surgery six months ago repairs a herniated disk, and look at the Wild's $98 million man now as the team heads into what will be a physical first-round playoff series against the Winnipeg Jets.

How the Iowa Wild helped get the MN Wild into playoffs
As injuries ravaged the Minnesota Wild this season, Iowa Wild players have been key in filling those voids. Just take a look at the blue line Minnesota will take into its first-round playoff series this week against the Winnipeg Jets. Nick Seeler and Carson Soucy almost certainly will be in the lineup for Game 1 on Wednesday night at Bell MTS Place, and Murphy has a good chance of cracking the lineup at some point. Those three combined to play 164 games in Iowa this season, and now they are important parts of Minnesota's playoff push.

Tending the Field

Prospect Need to Know: NCAA Duluth's Bulldog front | The Hockey News
Minnesota-Duluth wins the Frozen Four again, with a 2018 draft prospect playing a big role. Learn about him and more kids making noise around the hockey world

On Frozen Pond

Minnesota Duluth's Bulldogs are 'it' team in college hockey | The Globe

Off the Trail

Playoff X-Factors: Who could make or break the post-season for each Cup contender? | The Hockey News
Ahead of the opening day of the post-season, we take a look at the 16 players who could make or break the playoff runs for each team competing for the Stanley Cup.

Conn Men: Who could take home playoff MVP honors this season? | The Hockey News
Ahead of the first round of the playoffs, we look at potential Conn Smythe winners from each of the 16 post-season teams.

NHL Playoffs Questions You Always Forget to Google – Grandstand Central
Why grow playoff beards? Which rules change? Why do fans throw fish on the ice? We’ve got answers to your most Googleable playoff queries.

Sportsnet’s analytics experts share 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs brackets - Sportsnet.ca
It can be difficult to fill out your Stanley Cup Playoffs brackets, so let our analytics experts help out. See who they are picking to win each series and explain how they came to their conclusions.