The next chapter of the Wild-Blues rivalry is almost here.
After playing outdoors and in two competitive, overtime games in St. Louis earlier this season, the Wild and Blues will reunite in the playoffs for Game 1 in a first round, best-of-seven series that begins Monday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Puck drop is 8:30 p.m. The game will be carried by ESPN and Bally Sports North.
"We're a confident hockey club," Wild coach Dean Evason said.
Marc-Andre Fleury was the first Wild goalie off the ice at morning skate, which usually indicates who the starter is. Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champion the Wild acquired on March 21 in a trade with the Blackhawks, has yet to face the Blues this season with the Wild.
"It's not a tough decision, right?" Evason said. "It's an easy decision because we feel both are more than capable of starting for us here. We're excited about the opportunity to have both guys available if we need it, and we probably will."
Nothing has changed for injured forwards Marcus Foligno and Mats Zuccarello; if they give the green light that they can play, they'll be in the lineup.
This is the third time the Wild and Blues have squared off in the playoffs, with the Wild prevailing in 2015 and then St. Louis in 2017. That meeting five years ago was also the last time the Wild had home-ice advantage in the first round.
Not only have the Blues won five straight against the Wild, including the Winter Classic on New Year's Day and twice in overtime (4-3 and 6-5 on April 8 and 16), but they're also 9-0-1 over the last 10.
Keep an eye on St. Louis' top line featuring Pavel Buchnevich, Robert Thomas and Vladimir Tarasenko.
All three established career highs in points, and they were especially clutch the last month of the regular season when they combined for 73 points.
"They get really good movement in the offensive zone," Wild defenseman Jake Middleton said. "So, if we can slow them down through the neutral zone and not let them get set up and move around in the offensive zone, that's gonna be a key to success for us."
Kirill Kaprizov-Ryan Hartman-Mats Zuccarello
Kevin Fiala-Frederick Gaudreau-Matt Boldy
Jordan Greenway-Joel Eriksson Ek-Marcus Foligno
Nic Deslauriers-Tyson Jost-Brandon Duhaime
Jake Middleton-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill-Dmitry Kulikov
5-1-2: Record for the Blues in their last eight games at Xcel Energy Center.
8: St. Louis forwards with at least 20 goals.
14-1-1: Run for the Wild during its last 16 home games.
305: Goals scored by the Wild during the regular season, a franchise record.
309: Goals this season for the Blues, the third most in the NHL.
About the Blues:
Goalie Ville Husso is starting for the Blues. He went 25-7-6 in the regular season with a 2.56 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Former Wild defenseman Marco Scandella is out for Game 1 with a lower-body injury; Niko Mikkola will draw in with Scandella unavailable. St. Louis' power play ranked second in the NHL at 27 percent. Buchnevich and Thomas each tallied five points vs. the Wild in the regular season.