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GAMEDAY: Wild at Colorado Game 1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 3:50 AM

Mike Doyle - Manager of Digital Content

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GAMEDAY: Wild at Colorado Game 1
Minnesota Wild vs. Colorado Avalanche
Minnesota Wild (43-27-12: 98 points, No. 7 seed in Western Conference, 4th in Central Division) vs. Colorado Avalanche (52-22-8: 112 points, No. 2 seed in Western Conference, 1st in Central Division)
Before the start of the season, a playoff series between the Minnesota Wild and Colorado Avalanche seemed about as likely as snow in mid April. Well then, here we are. While the Wild was expected to build on its first round exit last spring, the Avs were the worst team in the Western Conference just a season ago. One year later, Colorado vaulted to the Central Division title and Minnesota earned the first wild-card spot out West.

The first round matchup will be a distinct contrast of styles. The Wild relies on a tough defensive style, limiting opponent’s offensive chances and timely goal scoring. Minnesota ranked seventh in goals-against per game (2.42) while allowing only 27.7 shots per game during the regular season.

Meanwhile, the Avs are a high-powered offensive club and rely heavily on one of the top goaltenders in the National Hockey League. The Avs ranked fourth in the NHL, totaling a shade under three goals per game (2.99). Colorado’s power play was tied for fifth (19.8 percent). Goaltender Semyon Varlamov saw more rubber than I-94 this season. He was key in the Avalanche’s run to the top of the Central, finishing first among NHL netminders in wins (41) and tied for third in save percentage (.927).

During the regular season, the Wild went 1-3-1 against Colorado, with all but one game decided by a single goal. The Wild outshot the Avs in all but one game, in which the two teams were even.

The Wild forward Mikael Granlund will return to the lineup after missing the final six games of the regular season. Granlund suffered an upper-body injury on March 31 against the Los Angeles Kings. Game 1 will be the Finnish forward’s first career playoff game. However, it’s not the first time he’s played on a big stage. Granlund helped team Finland to a bronze medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, earning all-tournament team honors in the process.

Granlund rounds out the Wild’s top six forwards, looking to improve from last season’s five-game exit against the eventual Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks. In the series, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Jason Pominville were held to a single goal. Pominville only played in two games after coming back from a concussion, but the forward was healthy this season, playing in all 82 games while leading the Wild in scoring (30-30=60).

This is the third time the Wild and Avs have met in the postseason. The Wild recorded its first-ever playoff series win rallying from a three-games-to-one deficit over the Avalanche in the 2003 Western Conference Quarterfinal. Colorado defeated the Wild in six games in the 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinal.
If You're Going
The Avs came out of nowhere this season. After finishing with the worst record in the Western Conference last season Colorado won the tough Central Division. Stat heads predicted that the Avalanche would regress, being outshot more than three times per game and having negative possession numbers, but the team never regressed.

Matt Duchene, the team’s regular season leading scorer is expected to miss the series with a knee injury.
The Avalanche’s playoff tagline is “Why not us?” Well, we’ve got a few reasons why not. But this shouldn’t stop you from trying to win tickets and a new car from the Avs. Colorado is hosting a “Drive to the Playoffs” drawing. Better enter because the promotion might be ending soon.

The Wild will wear its WHITE sweaters tonight.
Who's Hot Gameday Media
Ilya Bryzgalov became the Wild’s no. 1 netminder down the stretch, going 7-1-3 with a 2.00 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and three shutouts in 11 starts with Minnesota — leading all NHL goalies in shutouts and T-1st in wins since March 18.

Fans can guess who's going to be hot with the Wild's HotBox Fantasy Challenge for a chance to win great prizes.
Game Notes | Transactions | Injury Report | Lighthouse | @mnwildLIVE | @mnwild
Morning Skate Update | Yeo | Brodziak | Stoner | Moulson
Series Preview |
Probably Wild Lineup Between The Pipes
Here’s what the Game 1 lineup will look like

And the blueliners:

Bryzgalov is 7-4-4 with a 2.31 GAA, .918 SV% and one shutout in 15 games (14 starts) against the Avalanche.
View From The Press Box
If you’re going to be successful in the playoffs—anytime you see a team who really gets hot in the playoffs, who gets on a run, gets on a roll, whatever you want to say—there’s guys and always storylines in that…There’s always guys who, maybe, exceed the expectations.

- Yeo on needing contributions from depth players

Scratches tonight will be: Jonathon Blum, Dany Heatley and Mike Rupp, who is serving his suspension. Defenseman Keith Ballard has a lower-body injury.

Forward Jason Zucker (surgery) and goaltender Josh Harding (illness) are on Injured Reserve. Niklas Backstrom is shutdown for the remainder of the season.
Honorary State of Hockey Resident Worthless Stat
D Erik Johnson hails from Bloomington. LW Patrick Bordeleau was selected by Minnesota in the fourth-round (114th overall) of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Colorado Head Coach Patrick Roy returns to the playoffs for the first time since the Wild ended his playing career in 2003 with an overtime goal by Andrew Brunette in Game 7.

Broadcast Info In Case You Missed It
Wild at Avalanche will be broadcast locally in high definition on FOX Sports North and nationally on CNBC with a start time at 8:30 p.m. The game can be heard on KFAN 100.3 FM or online at   
True Grit | Depth At Forward Breeds Confidence | Playoffs Broadcast Schedule | Wild Has New Look vs. Avs | Goalie Quartet Helps Pave Way To Playoffs | X-Factor: Haula Needs To Provide Depth Up Front | Five Takeaways vs NSH | 5-Hole vs NSH |
Wild Practice In Denver | Yeo - April 16 | Pominville - April 16 | Spurgeon - April 16 | Haula - April 16 | Cooke - April 16 |
  Wild Weekly | Yeo | Parise |
Photo Gallery
Wild vs Nashville | A Season In Hugs
series schedule/results
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 17 '14 MIN 4 at COL 5 - OT P. Stastny
Apr 19 '14 MIN 2 at COL 4 G. Landeskog
Apr 21 '14 COL 0 at MIN 1 - OT M. Granlund
Apr 24 '14 COL 1 at MIN 2 C. Coyle
Apr 26 '14 MIN 3 at COL 4 - OT N. MacKinnon
Apr 28 '14 COL 2 at MIN 5 Z. Parise
Apr 30 '14 MIN 5 at COL 4 - OT N. Niederreiter
Z. Parise1022-1200
E. Haula1101+1000
R. Suter1101-1010
C. Coyle1101-1000
K. Brodziak1101-3000
M. Koivu1011+0200
N. Niederreiter1011+0000
M. Cooke1011-1200
M. Scandella1011-1000
J. Brodin1011-2000
S. Veilleux1000+1200
C. McCormick1000+1400
N. Prosser1000+1000
M. Moulson1000+0000
C. Stoner1000+0000
M. Granlund1000+0000
J. Spurgeon1000-1000
J. Pominville1000-2000
I. Bryzgalov10-15314.48.839
P. Stastny1213+1001
N. MacKinnon1033+3200
R. O'Reilly1112+3000
J. McGinn1112+0000
T. Barrie1022+3000
G. Landeskog1101+1000
E. Johnson1011+0200
P. Parenteau1000+1000
A. Benoit1000+1000
N. Holden1000+1200
M. Talbot1000+0000
N. Guenin1000+0000
C. McLeod1000+0000
M. Cliche1000+0200
J. Hejda1000-1200
P. Bordeleau1000-1000
P. Carey1000-1000
B. Malone1000-1000
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