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Wild-Avs one of three Game 7s tonight; Veilleux playing

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • April 30, 2014 - 2:05 PM

UPDATED BOTTOM

Good day from the Pepsi Center. I'll be on KFAN at 4:55 p.m. CT and on KARE-11 at 6:20 p.m. CT.

Tonight is the final night of the first round with three Game 7s -- the fifth time in NHL history and the first time since April 22, 2003, that three or more Game 7s will be contested on the same day. On that day, some guy named Andrew Brunette beat some guy named Patrick Roy to advance some team named the Wild to the second round.

Flyers-Rangers, Wild-Avalanche, Kings-Sharks tonight.

The opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs now has yielded three or more Game 7s in four consecutive postseasons:
 
2014: 3, TBD
2013: 3, Home Teams: 1-2
2012: 3, Home Teams: 1-2
2011: 4, Home Teams: 3-1
 
* Since 2003-04, there have been a total of 22 Game 7s in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Home teams are 10-12 in those contests.
 
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, home teams are 90-59 (.604) all-time in Game 7s contested in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
 
* Elias also says that the team that scores first in a Game 7 holds a 111-38 (.745) all-time record.
 
* Thirty-seven of the 149 all-time Game 7s have required overtime. Home teams are 19-18 (.514) in those contests.

The Wild will make one lineup change tonight. Stephane Veilleux will play for Justin Fontaine, who was on the ice for the Game 5 overtime winner and had a tough Game 6.

Why Veilleux?

Cue Mike Yeo: "Speed, speed on the forecheck, speed to pressure, veteran, penalty kill and bring some jam into the game."

Asked if he'll have to dial down the guy they call, "Tornado," Yeo said, "He’s wound up for exhibition games, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that for sure."

The Wild's penalty kill was exposed last game by the return of Matt Duchene. The Wild didn't play nearly big enough or fast enough in Game 5 here, so the thought is to change it up. Veilleux adds energy, speed and has even scored a couple goals since the Olympics.

He'll start the game on the fourth line with Kyle Brodziak and Cody McCormick.

"I don’t know if I’ll be able to nap," Veilleux said. "It'll be important to control the emotions in a good, positive way. Be there for my teammates in whatever situation there needs to be. Pretty excited. Tonight it’s all about the team, all about the win."

Yeo will likely start with Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle; Nino Niederreiter-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville (good line early in the season); Matt Moulson-Erik Haula-Dany Heatley. I am worried about the speed on the wings, but Moulson and Pominville haven't played well together and Heatley has played well the past three games. If the Wild wins tonight, I bet you Heatley will be a big part of it. I just have this feeling.

Expect Yeo to do a lot of line juggling tonight. Like Game 6, he'll see who's going and judge how the game is unfolding and maybe change things up based on matchups and feel.

"I’m comfortable with either [Koivu or Granlund]," Parise saud. "Had [good chemistry with Mikko]. Had some chemistry with Granlund and Pominville. To me it doesn’t matter. We could start the game one way and second shift it could be changed. [Yeo] did a good job [last game]. Good feel for the bench. You can tell when some guys are going or some guys are looking good together and he made good in-game adjustments."

The Wild made a bunch of different changes to change up the bad Denver vibes.

"Subtle changes," Yeo said, before adding with a laugh. "OK, pretty much everything."

They changed their flight time yesterday, changed the way they practiced, the team meal time changed and instead of going into the restaurant, they got a private room, the bus times were changed today from 12:30 and 12:45 to 12:27 and 12:47 and every player's locker stall is different.

"Some superstitious guys in here," Parise said.

They didn't sacrifice a live chicken ... that I know of.

Yeo brought the whole team here, including Josh Harding, scratch Mike Rupp and suspended Matt Cooke. Rupp and Cooke have combined to play in 13 Game 7s, so perhaps they can talk to some teammates and help lighten the mood.

The Avs are making one change, too. Joey Hishon, the 17th pick in the 2010 draft, will be back in the lineup and center the third line with Max Talbot and Jamie McGinn. Brad Malone comes out and Marc-Andre Cliche goes to the fourth line. The Avs don't have a point from their third or fourth line at even-strength, so this deepens them because Hishon has skills and Matt Duchene now centers the second line with Ryan O'Reilly and P.A. Parenteau.

I'll be doing a notebook lead tomorrow on Ryan Suter's pregame routine of playing football with assistant equipment trainer Matt Benz.

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