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Wild believe they can break through at United Center

by Corey Masisak /

CHICAGO -- The Minnesota Wild have spent a few days answering questions about why they think this time will be different.

Minnesota's past two Stanley Cup Playoffs have ended in a handshake line with the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Wild would like to avoid this as a third straight conclusion.

To do so, the Wild will obviously need to defeat the Blackhawks four times. They will need to win at least once at United Center, which is something that has eluded them for two consecutive playoff series. Their first chance in this Western Conference Second Round series will be Friday in Game 1 (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

"We haven't won a playoff game yet in this building," coach Mike Yeo said. "If we're going to win this playoff series, we're going to have to find a way to do that.

"There is nothing convincing me right now. There's a lot of reasons for optimism and a lot of reasons we can feel good or confident. We have a quiet confidence about us, but we also know what we're up against."

The Wild have played at United Center six times in the past two postseasons without a win, and have been outscored 24-8. Minnesota did win two of three road games in its Western Conference First Round series against the St. Louis Blues.

Much of the pre-series questions posed to players and coaches on each side have focused on how the Wild might be different this time around. Devan Dubnyk's name is a popular response, and since the goaltender arrived from the Arizona Coyotes, the Wild went 15-2-1 in his 19 road starts in the regular season.

"I think it is just a good team that plays well at home," Wild forward Zach Parise said. "I don't know the explanation. In the postseason, we just haven't been able to win here. We've got to do that. … It is a challenge, but I think we've been playing better road hockey this season."

Here are the projected lineups:


Zach Parise - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville

Jason Zucker - Mikko Koivu - Chris Stewart

Thomas Vanek - Charlie Coyle - Nino Niederreiter

Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Justin Fontaine

Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin

Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon

Jordan Leopold - Matt Dumba

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper

Scratched: Ryan Carter, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, Sean Bergenheim, Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Keith Ballard (concussion)


Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa

Bryan BickellBrad RichardsPatrick Kane

Patrick SharpAntoine VermetteTeuvo Teravainen

Andrew DesjardinsMarcus KrugerAndrew Shaw

Duncan KeithMichal Rozsival

Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson

Kimmo TimonenBrent Seabrook

Corey Crawford

Scott Darling

Scratched: Joakim Nordstrom, Daniel Carcillo, David Rundblad, Kyle Cumiskey, Michael Paliotta, Antti Raanta

Injured: Kris Versteeg (lower body)

Status report: Cooke, who played the final two games of the first round and assisted on Parise's shorthanded goal in the series clincher, remains the fourth-line left wing.

Who's hot: Minnesota's top line of Mikael Granlund, Zach Parise and Jason Pominville combined for six goals and 17 points against the Blues.

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