Playing against a big St. Louis Blues team, Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter know they must play a big boy's game in these playoffs.
The two big bodies had solid postseasons last year and want to build on it. Coyle scored the postseason's first goal, finished third on the Wild with seven points and played secretly through two separated shoulders. Niederreiter scored twice in Game 7 of the first round, including the series' clincher in overtime to eliminate Colorado.
"I think we both know what to expect," said Coyle, who shaved his full head of curly hair. "I knew I had to raise my game last year and I'm looking to do that again.
"We've got to play physical. We know [the Blues are] going to come out like that. That's why they're a good team. They use their size and physicality and we've got to counter back with that. Us big boys, me and Nino, we have to come out and play big. That's the bottom line right there. I have to take a leadership role in that."
Niederreiter added, "It's very important for Chuckie and myself to make sure we finish every check we can."
In addition, with Coyle and Niederreiter playing on a line with the Wild's third-leading scorer in the regular season, Thomas Vanek, coach Mike Yeo said, "We're going to need some secondary scoring. … We know those guys are capable of bringing offense to us."
Cooke misses practice
Left wing Matt Cooke, who recently missed 30 games because of a sports hernia but played the final two games of the regular season, missed Tuesday's practice with "discomfort" that Yeo said isn't related to his February surgery.
While Yeo said it was a possibility for Cooke to still play Game 1, Ryan Carter took his spot on the Kyle Brodziak- Justin Fontaine line Tuesday.
"I'd say there's definitely a possibility for that, but we've got other options, based on identity, based on roles. But that's the look we went with today."
That indicates Erik Haula, Sean Bergenheim and Jordan Schroeder will be scratched for Game 1.
"Guys that were here last year remember and guys that have been part of the playoffs [know] things change quickly," Yeo said. "Haula went from barely being in the lineup to barely playing in the first couple games to having an elevated role and obviously having quite an impact as things went on [last year]. Things change quickly and we just have to make sure they stay positive, and they stay ready."
Carter, who won a Stanley Cup with Anaheim in 2007, said, "We're all prepared to play at any time. That's where my head is at now. Preparing to play and if it happens, I'll be ready.
"Playoff hockey is what it's about. It's when the game really gets fun, the paychecks stop and guys start playing to win and with their heart."
• Ken Hitchcock again wouldn't announce Tuesday whether Brian Elliott or Jake Allen will start Game 1. That will come Wednesday, the Blues coach said.
"I'm not ready to declare my starter yet either," Yeo kidded.
• Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk is actually the second-biggest favorite by Bovada to win the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP) at 14-to-1. The Rangers' Henrik Lundqvist is 19-to-2.
• Wild forward Chris Stewart felt like a "kid on Christmas" waiting for Thursday: "Two more sleeps. That's the only way to put it. It's kind of like you're waiting for Judgment Day. You just kind of wait around."
• Games 1, 3 and 4 will be televised locally on Fox Sports North and Game 2 on NBC. Games 5, 6 and 7 will be determined.