DALLAS -- The Minnesota Wild will be without forward Erik Haula when it plays the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of its First Round 2016 Stanley Cup Playoff Series on Thursday.
The Wild is already without forwards Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek, who both did not travel with Minnesota to Dallas because of upper-body injuries, respectively.
Haula, who last played in the Wild's regular season finale last Saturday against the Calgary Flames, has not been on the ice with the Wild since. He skated Wednesday on his own prior to the Wild's practice, and came on toward the end of morning skate at Amercan Airlines Center on Thursday.
Interim Head Coach John Torchetti said Haula would likely miss Game 1. Without him, the Wild is down one of its top defensive forwards in a series that pits Minnesota against the NHL's highest-scoring team, and the third-best power play.
"A unit of five for us is huge," Jared Spurgeon said. "When we have our forwards backchecking and back-pressuring, it allows us to stand up at the blue line. With the mobility that our defense has, it's huge for us to be able to retrieve pucks with the forwards coming back."
Haula has not been ruled out for Game 2 on Saturday.
"We’ll see how he is after he skated today," Torchetti said. "He’s going to push it a little bit more now and get a little more strength out of it and see how he feels and then we’ll know tomorrow."
The Dallas Stars will be without forward Tyler Seguin. The second-leading goal scorer for the Stars this season, Seguin has not played since he lacerated his Achilles in a game March 17.
He has practiced the past three days, his first on-ice activity since sustaining the injury, and took morning skate Thursday.
Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff said Seguin would definitely play in Game 2.
"It was just real close, probably a couple more days of practice to get him exactly where we need him," Ruff said.
Regardless, the Wild knows a Stars team sans Seguin is still one with plenty of offensive firepower.
"They have good players up front, and as a team, they're an offensive team that skates well," Spurgeon said. "Obviously without him it's a bit different look on their power play, but we just have to worry about ourselves."
What Minnesota knows is that spending as much time as possible in Dallas' end, forcing those players to defend, can go a long way in limiting them.
"That would be huge," Jason Zucker said. "Obviously we want to come out and play our game, and establish our game early. If we can establish the way we want to play in the first 10 minutes, the first period, that's a huge key for us."
Here is the Wild's projected lineup:
Jason Zucker – Mikko Koivu – Charlie Coyle
Nino Niederreiter – Mikael Granlund – Jason Pominville
Chris Porter – Zac Dalpe – David Jones
Ryan Carter – Jarret Stoll – Justin Fontaine
Ryan Suter – Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella – Jonas Brodin
Nate Prosser – Matt Dumba