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Wild rested, prepared for Game 1 against Blackhawks

by Brian Hedger /


TV: NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2

Game 1 of best-of-7 series

The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild each will have had plenty of time off before Game 1 of their Western Conference Second Round series at United Center on Friday.

The Blackhawks finished their first-round series against the Nashville Predators with a win in Game 6 on April 25, and the Wild eliminated the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 the next day.

"I think when you come out of a series playing the way we did at the end, maybe a couple of days is all you need and you want to go right into the next one," Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said. "Some other situations might not be so much like that. You might enjoy the break. But I think for us, we’re ready to go. We want to get into this thing."

The Wild are just as anxious but also needed some down time after a physically taxing series against the Blues. Last year they needed seven games to defeat the Colorado Avalanche in the first round and flew straight from Denver to Chicago to start the second-round series.

This time Minnesota enjoyed some practice time.

"It's nice preparation-wise for us to not to have to scramble as coaches and for us not to throw too much at the players in too short a period of time," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "We can spread things out a little bit. I think the other thing that's maybe a little bit nice is, as the week wears on, you can start to concentrate on yourselves a little bit more too."

Each team will start the series with mostly the same lineup intact from the first round.

The Blackhawks likely won't have forward Kris Versteeg for Game 1. After being demoted outside the top four lines for practices Monday and Wednesday, Versteeg missed practice Thursday because of a lower-body injury that Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said isn't serious.

Versteeg is day-to-day. Entering the lineup likely will be rookie Teuvo Teravainen, who was scratched for the final four games against Nashville.

Teravainen will play right wing on the third line with center Antoine Vermette and left wing Patrick Sharp in what Quenneville hopes will become a third scoring line.

Wild forward Jason Pominville missed practice Wednesday because of an illness but returned Thursday and is expected to play Friday.

Minnesota, which has been eliminated by Chicago in the playoffs the past two years, is looking for its first postseason victory at United Center. The Wild have lost all six playoff games in Chicago the past two years.

"If we're going to have success in these playoffs, we have to win at least one there," Wild forward Matt Cooke said. "We can't overemphasize Game 1, but we can't underemphasize it as well. At the end of the day, one win is one win, and one loss is one loss. We've got to go out and play like we're trying to win Game 1."

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