Michael Russo has covered the National Hockey League since 1995. He has covered the Minnesota Wild for the Star Tribune since 2005, after 10 years of covering the Florida Panthers for the Sun-Sentinel. He uses “Russo’s Rants” to feed a wide-ranging hockey-centric discussion with readers, and can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3 FM) radio and seen weekly on Fox Sports North.

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Wild vs. Blackhawks to start Tuesday: Anticipated lines, must-Twitter follows

Posted by: Michael Russo under Stanley Cup, Wild news Updated: April 29, 2013 - 9:13 AM
Wild-Blackhawks open Tuesday in Chicago at 7 p.m. Game 2 is Friday at 8:30 p.m. The series moves to St. Paul on Sunday for a 2 p.m. game on NBC. Game 4 is Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. Games 1, 2, 4 will be on Fox Sports North.
 
Games 5-7 if necessary will be May 9, 11 and 12. TV and times to be determined
 
With rosters expanded, I'd be shocked if defenseman Marco Scandella isn't added to the roster Monday. He's a big D who can skate and can immediately be plugged into the lineup. He has had an up and down year, but he has played 83 games and we have seen him play well in spurts. Update: Scandella officially recalled.
 
Minnesota will be assigned the task of defeating a team that lost seven times in regulation all year … four times in a seven-game series. Won’t be simple, considering the Wild has beaten the Blackhawks five times in the past 15 meetings – and once in regulation.
 
That’s why Friday’s home loss to Edmonton was so costly. If the Wild had won that game and the Colorado game, it would have finished with the sixth seed and faced Vancouver.
 
What’s amazing about the Wild’s lack of success the last few years against Chicago is at one point in my tenure covering the Wild, Minnesota won 12 of 13 against the Hawks.
 
I can tell you, nobody is giving the Wild a chance in this series. The Blackhawks are most pundits' favorite to get out of the West. You'll be seeing a lot of sweep, five-game predictions in the next few days.
 
Check out the coverage in Monday’s Star Tribune.
 
Rachel Blount wrote a profile on Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.
I wrote a main story on an initial look at the Wild-Blackhawks series matchup and a notebook leading with Devin Setoguchi’s strong game in Colorado and the need for the experienced playoff performer to keep it up.
 
Here are your anticipated lineups for the series.
 
CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS
 
* This is assuming Dave Bolland is in. He is questionable for Game 1 with a groin injury. Ray Emery is likely to serve as backup to Corey Crawford after sitting with a lower-body injury. 
 
Forwards lines
 
Brandon Saad—Jonathan Toews—Marian Hossa
Patrick Sharp—Michal Handzus—Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell—Dave Bolland—Vitkor Stalberg
Michael Frolik—Marcus Kruger—Andrew Shaw
 
Defensive pairings
 
Duncan Keith—Niklas Hjalmarsson
Nick Leddy—Brent Seabrook
Michal Rozsival—Johnny Oduya
 
Goaltenders
 
Corey Crawford
Ray Emery
 
MINNESOTA WILD
 
*This is assuming Jason Pominville is in. He is questionable for Game 1 with a head injury. We will see Monday if he returns to practice. But I would assume if he plays, coach Mike Yeo would return to that productive third line he was on, especially since Jason Zucker seemed to help that second line get back on track Saturday in Denver. If Pominville does not play, assume Cal Clutterbuck stays on the third line, Zenon Konopka stays on the fourth line and Torrey Mitchell moves to right wing on the fourth line.
 
Forward lines
 
Zach Parise-Mikko Koivu-Charlie Coyle
Jason Zucker-Matt Cullen-Devin Setoguchi
Pierre-Marc Bouchard-Kyle Brodziak-Jason Pominville
Mike Rupp-Torrey Mitchell-Cal Clutterbuck
Extra: Zenon Konopka
 
Defense pairings
 
Ryan Suter-Jonas Brodin
Clayton Stoner-Jared Spurgeon
Scandella/Justin Falk-Tom Gilbert
Extras: Brett Clark and Nate Prosser
 
Goaltenders
 
Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
Extra: He is not here, but I’ve got to think Darcy Kuemper will be on quick recall duty if something happens to Backstrom. Harding’s lack of play the past two months has to be a concern.
 
Some great writers to follow in Chicago. Please give the following writers a read and follow on Twitter:
 
Chris Kuc: www.chicagotribune.com and @chriskuc
Tracey Myers: http://www.csnchicago.com/blackhawks and @TramyersCSN
Mark Lazerus: blogs.suntimes.com/blackhawks/  and @MarkLazerus
Tim Sassone: http://blogs.dailyherald.com/node/4110  and @TimSassone
 
This may be the first bulletin-board material of the series, but check out this honest and probably true Patrick Kane quote to the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Kuc on the Wild:
 
“When they play like they want to, they can score four or five goals a night and keep it out of their net with maybe one of the best defensemen in the league [in Suter]. It’s a dangerous team. You definitely have to be careful with them. They’re a team that I’ve watched throughout the year and it seems like one night they look like the best team in the NHL and the next night they look like they don’t even want to be out there.”
 
Wild vs. Blackhawks By the Numbers
 
Category; Wild; Blackhawks
 
Overall record: 26-19-3; 36-7-5
Home record: 14-8-2; 18-3-3
Road record: 12-11-1; 18-4-2
One-goal games: 13-5-3; 19-3-5
Scoring first: 18-4-1; 26-2-1
Scored on first: 8-15-2; 10-5-4
Leading after 1 period: 9-2-1; 17-1-1
Trailing after 1 period: 6-12-1; 3-3-3
Leading after 2 periods: 18-1-1; 26-1-2
Trailing after 2 periods: 2-14-2; 4-5-1
Outshooting opponent: 15-10-1; 26-3-4
Outshot: 8-7-2; 9-4-1
Goals for: 2.46 (22nd in the NHL); 3.1 (2nd)
Goals against: 2.60 (15th); 2.02 (1st)
Shots for: 28.8 (17th); 31.1 (5th)
Shots against: 27.1 (6th); 26.2 (4th)
Power play: 17.9% (16th); 16.7% (19th)
Penalty kill: 80.7% (18th) 87.2% (3rd)
Shorthanded goals: 1 (T-26th); 5 (T-4th)
Shorthanded goals against: 0 (1st); 5 (T-25th)
 
 

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