ST. LOUIS – Jordan Leopold had his 20-year-old defense partner over for dinner last week.
Of course, between playing video games and going for ice cream with Leopold's 6-year-old son, Kyle, and 6-year-old nephew, Derek, Matt Dumba was nowhere to be found.
"He's a kid at heart," Leopold, 34, said of Dumba. "He disappeared for a couple hours with the kids out in the driveway. I couldn't find them. When dinner time came up, I'm yelling for all of them."
Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues, a wide-eyed Dumba played his first career playoff game alongside Leopold playing his 72nd.
Dumba has played big games before in junior hockey and for Canada's national team, but Leopold wanted to have Dumba over partly to talk to him about the experience of playing in the NHL playoffs. Like a wild stallion, Dumba sometimes needs to be reined in.
"I don't expect him to be out of place at all," Leopold said before Game 1. "He knows what to expect. He's been through battles throughout his life. It's just another challenge. But you don't want him to be too excited and too nervous. [Comfort] is the recipe for success. It's going to be intense out there. … It's about staying composed throughout the whole series."
Dumba started the playoffs quickly, his power-play goal Thursday giving the Wild a 2-0 lead early in the second period.
Coach Mike Yeo also met with Dumba.
"The thing about the playoffs, there's more emotion, the pace of play picks up, the intensity certainly picks up, but the game is still the same," Yeo sad. "So you can't go out there and try to do something different, try to bring something different than what you normally do. That's the message for him. Same game, the stage is a little bit bigger, but no reason to change right now."
Dumba idolizes Leopold, whom he calls "Uncle Leo." Dumba jabs Leopold with stuff like, "I can't wait to see your gray playoff beard." A Calgary native, Leopold was one of Dumba's favorite players on the 2004 Flames that came within one win of a Stanley Cup.
"Maybe he didn't learn something then, but hopefully I can teach him something now," Leopold said.
Leopold, too, was looking forward to playing the Blues, his former team: "They're going to play hard. I know that just from being under [coach Ken Hitchcock's] spell."
Going on past success
Sean Bergenheim got the fourth-line left wing nod on a line with Kyle Brodziak and Justin Fontaine.
Bergenheim's 12 goals and 17 points in 23 playoff games became the overriding factor, Yeo said before Game 1.
"The way he was scoring goals [in previous playoffs with Tampa Bay and Florida] are ways we would need to score goals in this type of playoff series against this type of team," Yeo said. "Part of it as well is just matchupwise, what they're going to face as a line, we need to make sure we have guys that can defend, but we also want to make sure we have guys that are a threat."
Although he didn't have a point in Game 1, Bergenheim had three hits and two takeaways in a little over 10 minutes of ice time.
Bergenheim said this is the time of year he gets most jacked to play. His inclusion meant Ryan Carter, Erik Haula and Jordan Schroeder were scratched.
Matt Cooke, the Wild's eldest statesman with 103 career playoff games, didn't play after missing one practice this week with abdominal soreness.
Backstrom the backup
Niklas Backstrom backed up Devan Dubnyk in his playoff debut because Darcy Kuemper was ill and missed Wednesday's practice.
Kuemper flew to St. Louis on Thursday and is expected to practice Friday.
• Fans at Scottrade Center for Game 1 received a David Backes rally towel in the shape of the Blues captain's No. 42 sweater. "Whoever designed the rally towels, I think, did a good job," Backes, a Blaine native who went to Spring Lake Park High, joked. …
• Hitchcock, who is 74-69 all-time in the playoffs and 708-429-185 in the regular season, said he doesn't get nervous in the playoffs.
"I do in the regular season because there's so much watching of others. Not now," Hitchcock said. "You've got so much time to prepare. It's the fun part for us. I'm sure it's agonizing for the players going over details. This is really the fun part for coaches."