Finally, Game 1 between the Wild and Chicago Blackhawks is upon us.
It only requires just a little more waiting on your part for the Central Division time slot of 8:45 p.m. CT for the opening puck drop.
By now, unless you didn't read a word this week, you know the lines and lineups.
No changes, but if you don't know, click the scouting report links I'm about to post for the projected lines for both teams.
Today, at 5 p.m., I will be doing a podcast with Jim Souhan live from Chicago. You can listen at souhanunfiltered.com, iHeart Radio or subscribe on iTunes.
Also, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Jim and I will be doing a podcast at the Liffey in St. Paul. Our special guest will be Wild owner Craig Leipold.
Also, at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, I will be doing a live chat at startribune.com/wild. Please join and pepper me with questions.
I will be on KFAN today at 4:30 p.m.
Twitter follows tonight:
Team Star Tribune: @russostrib, @souhanstrib, @schustee, @CarlosGphoto, @fromjefferson
Some Blackhawks scribes: @MarkLazerus, @TramyersCSN, @ChrisKuc, @BrianHedger and @ESPNChiPowers.
Here's today's Star Tribune coverage:
Here's my Zach Parise/Patrick Kane feature on how they're very different players with different styles and personalities, yet they have a ton of respect for each other and it gives some insight into how both tick.
Here is Jim Souhan's column on Iron Men Ryan Suter and Devan Dubnyk
Here is the notebook on how the Wild wants to keep up with its good discipline, on Dubnyk being a finalist for the Masterton, on the sick bay and Las Vegas odds on this series.
Here's some coach Joel Quenneville stuff from this morning:
"Minny is probably he most disciplined team as far as positionally aware of denying either access through the middle of the ice, through the zone, to the middle fo the net. as good a checking team as you’re going to see, that we’ve faced all year. we know how tough it is to generate shots, chances, and the willingness to be patient and improvising when you can. you have to be aware of cautioning yourselves: when you try to create, you’re vulnerable. so let’s make good decisions with the puck."
On Jason Zucker: "He’s played well, very dangerous player, excellent speed, use him in a few ways. but his speed jumps out at you. has some presence aswell, dangerous off the rush. whether they use him offensively or defensively, he’s a factor."
How "Minny" has changed: "In the last three years they’ve improved each and every year, they’re deeper up front, very balanced on the back end as well. improvement in team game – goaltending’s improved as well – they’ve progressed."
Here's Devan Dubnyk on being a finalist for the Masterton: "That’s a completely different side of it compared to the Vezina [finalist]. It’s been a big story and a big part of my life over the last year turning it around, so to get that recognition, I’m certainly honored."
Here's some Mike Yeo, who opened his presser by eating a doughnut (so he's loose):
On Mikko Koivu the last two series against Chicago: It’s always a tough challenge and he’s going to face some of the toughest challenges. He’s always going to face good d pairings or whether it’s Toews or a checking line to try to match them up, he’s going to be in a role that’s going to challenge him at both ends of the ice. We’ve been pleased with what he’s done so far. I think when you come out on the short end of it like we have in a series, you’re always looking for a reason. We haven’t scored enough goals. I think the biggest difference really is there has been times where he’s done very well in his matchup, making sure he hasn’t lost in very difficult matchups, but we’ve gotten beat elsewhere in our lineup and that’s where we have to see if we’re different this year.
Biggest gut-punch the way the series ended last year? "That was a tough one, yeah. That still stings a little bit that one. You know, I think there’s some good things that we can take out of that series, but bottom line was we still fell a little bit short. Even if we won that game there’s still no guarantees. We said the last couple of days, ‘We haven’t won a playoff game in this building.’ So obviously if we’re going to win this playoff series then we have to find a way to do that."
What convinces you that you can beat them this time? "Again, there’s nothing that’s convincing here. I’ve said this for the last couple of days, there’s a lot of reasons for optimism, there’s a lot of reasons why we could feel good or feel confident. We have a quiet confidence about us and we know what we’re capable of. We also know what we’re up against. For the last several months we’ve been at it pretty good and we’ve had to be at our best. And with that we’ve been probably pretty close to the best team in the league, and obviously with respect to the other teams out there, but the bottom line is until we get into this series, until we find something different, or prove that something’s different, then nothing’s changed. We have to change something here along the way."