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Wild's Dubnyk to make playoff debut vs. Blues

by Louie Korac /

WILD (46-28-8) at BLUES (51-24-7)


Season series: The Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues split four games, each winning a game at home and a game on the road. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko led all scorers with three goals and two assists, and Alexander Steen had four assists. Wild forwards Justin Fontaine and Charlie Coyle each had four points. St. Louis won the regular-season finale 4-2 at Scottrade Center.

Wild team scope: Goalie Devan Dubnyk will play his first game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Dubnyk started 39 of the Wild's final 40 games. "I don’t know [about] nerve-wracking," Dubnyk said. "I think I found a good routine here. [It's] about making the picture as small as possible and there’s been a lot of big hockey games over this last stretch, a lot of important games." Backup goalie Darcy Kuemper was sick and didn't practice Wednesday. Right wing Matt Cooke has an undisclosed injury unrelated to the sports hernia he sustained earlier in the season. Cooke practiced Wednesday but is unlikely to play, according to coach Mike Yeo. "I think he’s OK," Yeo said of Cooke. "I don’t think he’s ready for tomorrow. Certainly I don’t see why Game 2 would not be a real strong possibility." Minnesota was the hottest team the final 40 games of the regular season, going 28-9-3.

Blues team scope: Unlike last season when St. Louis dealt with a number of injuries heading into its Western Conference First Round best-of-7 series against the Chicago Blackhawks, the Blues are completely healthy, and coach Ken Hitchcock, who announced rookie goalie Jake Allen would start Game 1, said that health is a huge difference. "This is a fresher group, a healthier group -- touch wood -- to start, which is the thing I'm feeling good about," Hitchcock said. "I'm excited to see them play, but I felt really [bad] for a team that played so well last year, to have that happen to them, I thought that was really unfair. I felt for the players at the end of the year." Hitchcock would reveal his lineup and said that things could change at the morning skate. The Blues have been eliminated in the first round in back-to-back years. "You play all year for this, you work your butt off to put yourself in a spot to get to the playoffs," Blues captain David Backes said.

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