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Minnesota's Youth Rich In Playoff Experience

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

With all the talk of the youth movement in the Minnesota Wild's locker room, it can be easy to forget how playoff-tested it's not-so-veteran veterans have become.

"We've got some guys that have played in the playoffs here for three straight years, and we're expecting that experience to help us out," interim Head Coach John Torchetti said.

When forward Jarret Stoll was claimed off waivers, the two Stanley Cups he has on his resume became the talk and topic of conversation. Forward Chris Porter, whom the Wild claimed off waivers just prior to the start of the regular season, has been in the postseason each of the past three years.

But of the Wild's 25-and-under core, of which there are eight skaters, all eight have been in the playoffs the past two seasons, accruing a combined 180 games of experience.

Four of them — forward Charlie Coyle, and defensemen Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, and Jared Spurgeon — have played in each of the past three postseasons.

"The biggest thing is just whatever happens in the past, you just have to let it go, and now it's just take it day-by-day," said Nino Niederreiter, who is entering his third postseason and has played in 23 playoff games. "Now it's time to prepare yourself and get ready for the first game, and take it game-by-game, and don't look too far ahead."

It's that same core that has helped the Wild win a first round series the past two seasons, the only team in the NHL to have defeated a division winner in the first round.

"[Dallas is] a team that can be beat obviously and we’ve been in this position before and we’ve come out on top," Coyle said. "We have a good team in here and it’s up to us how we play and what we do here."

Stoll knows firsthand that a seed can be just a number. The first Stanley Cup he won as a member of the Los Angeles Kings came after they snuck into the 2012 playoffs as the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Two months later, they were hoisting the Stanley Cup.

"You can't have any selfish guys in here," Stoll said. "We have to all be together. It's hard to win, but that's what makes it so much fun, and once you win, you want it that much more. Once you taste that, there's nothing better."

A taste is what the Wild feels it has gotten, refining its palate and now having an understanding of the playoff menu. Having eaten a two-course meal each of the past two go-arounds, Minnesota is hoping to earn itself a seat for a third or fourth helping.

"You think of this stuff when you're a kid," Coyle said. "When you're out playing street hockey or whatever it is, and you're pretending you're whoever, you're in the Stanley Cup Finals, not the regular season. You're thinking playoffs, and Game 7, so it goes back to when you're a kid.

"You love the grind, and when you have guys who have gone through that, and experienced that, it's huge."

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