DALLAS -- The Minnesota Wild will be without forward Erik Haula when it plays the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of its First Round 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Series on Thursday.
Haula, who last played in the Wild's regular season finale last Saturday against the Calgary Flames, has not been on the ice with the Wild since. He skated Wednesday on his own prior to the Wild's practice, and came on toward the end of morning skate at Amercan Airlines Center on Thursday.
The Wild practiced in Minnesota on Wednesday before leaving for Dallas with the series beginning on Thursday. Minnesota was again without Parise and Vanek, its first and fourth-leading goal scorers, respectively.
Both have upper-body injuries, and both will be difficult for the Wild to replace come puck drop Thursday night (8:30 p.m. CT; FOX Sports North, NBCSN, SN360, TVA3) at American Airlines Center.
"When we're missing a player like him it's more about everyone else," Mikko Koivu said of Parise. "It's also playoffs so you need depth, scoring-wise, and in every area of the game."
It all starts tonight at 6 pm CT (7 pm ET) when the initial puck of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs is dropped in Tampa Bay as the Lightning host the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference.
And as the games start, the NHL Bracket Challenge will be locked, so if you haven’t made your picks yet hurry here to get them in.
The State of Hockey once again has a finalist, Minnetonka, in the Kraft Hockeyville competition to find America's most passionate hockey community.
The Minnesota Wild's 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoff run begins Thursday in Dallas, against the Stars. Though the series won't shift back to Minnesota until Monday, there will be plenty of events for fans throughout the week. For all the logistics and when and where things will be taking place, check here to find all the details.
Forwards Zach Parise and Erik Haula did not practice with the Minnesota Wild on Monday, and both remain day-to-day as the Wild prepares for Game 1 of its first round series against the Dallas Stars, on Thursday.
Interim Head Coach John Torchetti said he likes Haula's chances — " Playing on that line, and maybe playing" — but if Haula doesn't play, it could affect one of the Wild's defensive strategies.
Skating on a line with wingers Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville, Haula has consistently matched up against the opponent's top scoring line. For the Dallas Stars that means Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, and Patrick Sharp.
With all the talk of the youth movement in the Minnesota Wild's locker room, it can be easy to forget how playoff-tested it's not-so-veteran veterans have become.
"We've got some guys that have played in the playoffs here for three straight years, and we're expecting that experience to help us out," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said.
When forward Jarret Stoll was claimed off waivers, the two Stanley Cups he has on his resume became the talk and topic of conversation. Forward Chris Porter, whom the Wild claimed off waivers just prior to the start of the regular season, has been in the postseason each of the past three years.
Every successful hockey team has intangibles and glue guys, those whose contributions can go unnoticed at times but are addends to the greater sum.
In the Disney trilogy, "The Mighty Ducks," coach Gordon Bombay — and eventually coach Ted Orion — had "The Bash Brothers," two forwards in Fulton Reed and Dean Portman who added a snarl to the lineup and a good sense of humor to go along with it.
In the Wild, a similar role is held by forwards Ryan Carter and Chris Porter, and its one that interim Head Coach John Torchetti said will be key as the Wild gets set to begin its first round series against the Dallas Stars.
The Minnesota Wild likes to play fast, and thinks that, when it does so, it can be successful.
Opposite the Wild in its first round playoff series will be the Dallas Stars, the NHL's highest-scoring team, and a transition goal waiting to happen.
"It’s crazy," Matt Dumba said. "They have a very high-octane offense. We’re aware of that. We’re going to have to take time and space away from them so they don’t make plays. Have to play extra tight. We’re going to defend with a lot of detail, good sticks, boxing out hard and take away time and space so they don’t have their push."
For the fourth consecutive season, the Minnesota Wild is headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. From a three-goal, third period opening night comeback, to the first-ever professional outdoor hockey game in the State Of Hockey, to its drive back to the postseason, Wild.com relives some of the best and biggest moments from the 2015-16 regular season.