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Playoffs Give Scandella All the Motivation He Needs

Wild defenseman playing his best hockey of season at the perfect time

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. LOUIS -- While the Wild needs more from a bunch of guys up and down the roster following an 0-2 start to its First Round Stanley Cup Playoff series against the St. Louis Blues, one player performing at a high level so far has been defenseman Marco Scandella.

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau mentioned following Game 1 that he thought Scandella was the best player on the ice. He followed it up with another strong effort in Game 2 on Friday.

"His aggressiveness, his confidence is at an all-time high for me," Boudreau said. "He's been really good and I just hope it continues to be that way and the rest of the players can get up to his level."

Scandella said the energy of the playoffs has helped bring out the best in his game. Together with Matt Dumba, the duo has provided solid minutes behind Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, who have taken on a greater minutes load now that it's the postseason.

Video: Scandella Doing His Part as Wild Stay Confident

"We're playing well. We're playing physical," Scandella said. "But that's what I want to bring every game in the playoffs. I feel like playoffs, it's another level. We've gotta get into a beast mode. That's what we're all gonna do next game."

Boudreau said getting continued solid play from every defenseman will be critical if the Wild wants to get back in this series. While Suter and Spurgeon have been occupied largely with slowing St. Louis' top line, featuring Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, Minnesota will no longer have the luxury of last change during the next two games.

That means Boudreau and assistant coach Scott Stevens will need to have full trust in all three defensive pairings no matter what the situation.

Video: Bruce Boudreau Talks Game 3 in St. Louis

"We need … all six defensemen going in the playoffs. You cant rely on one guy -- Bobby Orr's not playing anymore, so we have to rely on six [defensemen] to be as good as they can be," Boudreau said. "If we've got four [defensemen] or three, it's not going to be successful. 

"But [Scandella is] playing on top of his game. He's doing his part."

Scandella and Dumba have been defensive partners for a bulk of the season. Dumba said the duo has had good flow recently, however, building solid chemistry late in the regular season that has carried over into the playoffs.

"When one of us goes [in the offensive zone], the other one is staying back, just making the smart, simple play at the right time," Dumba said. "It's been good. Now, [we hope to get] more of it."

Maintenance for Haula

Forward Erik Haula did not skate on Saturday during the team's practice at Scottrade Center. Boudreau said it was simply a maintenance day.

With Haula away from the ice, Ryan White took his place on the wing next to Martin Hanzal and Nino Niederreiter. 

Charlie Coyle was skating next to Eric Staal and Zach Parise, where Niederreiter has been the past couple of weeks.

The groups of Jason Zucker, Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund and Chris Stewart, Joel Eriksson Ek and Jason Pominville appear to be unchanged.

Wild flips goaltenders, activates Bartley

The Wild recalled Alex Stalock from Iowa of the American Hockey League on Saturday, reassigning Steve Michalek in his place.

Michalek has served as the team's emergency goaltender during the first two games of the series and hasn't suited up.

Minnesota wanted Stalock to help Iowa during its race to reach the Calder Cup Playoffs. But with the team now eliminated and its season concluding Saturday in Rockford, the time was right to call Stalock back. The South St. Paul native was outstanding in two starts for the Wild late in the regular season, posting a 1-1-0 record with a .944 save percentage.

Whether he or Darcy Kuemper will serve as Dubnyk's backup in Game 3 is unknown. Kuemper has been the backup for the first two games but has seen no action.

The Wild also activated defenseman Victor Bartley from injured reserve. Bartley, who signed as a free agent last July, has not played a game this season after sustaining a torn triceps during training camp, an injury that required surgery.

He has been working back from the procedure over the past couple of weeks but did not practice on Saturday.

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