The Minnesota Wild, who finished second in both the Central Division and in the Western Conference, will open a playoff series with a home game for just the third time in franchise history when they host the St. Louis Blues tonight in game 1 of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Minnesota last faced St. Louis in early March and lost, which was the start of a miserable 2-10-2 stretch that cost it the division title. But the Wild enter the playoffs on a four-game winning streak, which has optimism growing despite coach Bruce Boudreau's well-documented history of regular-season success followed by early playoff exits.
While the Blues went all the way to the Western Conference Final last season, falling to San Jose in six games, the Wild fell to Dallas in a six-game opening-round series a year ago. But that was without offensive catalyst Zach Parise, who missed the series due to injury.
Parise is healthy now, despite needing a few stitches in his face recently, and is excited to get back at it.
With 49 wins and 106 points, The Wild had their finest regular season since they premiered as an expansion team in 2000.