Will Wild overcome injury crush vs. Stars?
It would’ve been daunting enough for Minnesota to face top-seeded Dallas on a level playing field. With the Twin Cities’ best scoring threat temporarily removed from the equation, the task looks nearly impractical.
John Torchetti’s Wild must get over some bad injury news in a hurry in order to post a representative effort in tonight’s first contest of the Western Conference quarterfinals. Oddsmakers at online sports book BetDSI grant the Stars odds of -185 to triumph, while the visitors enter as +165 underdogs.
Minnesota captain Zach Parise (25 goals), still felled by an upper-body issue, won’t even be in attendance at American Airlines Center. He last suited up on April 5, but Torchetti had hoped for a return in this crucial road spot. As it stands, the Wild must lean on center Mikko Koivu (56 points) and a balanced supporting cast to guard against being blown out of the building in the early going.
Lindy Ruff’s club, appearing in the playoffs for just the second time since 2008, would love to shatter the opposition’s spirit as soon as possible. Jamie Benn leads an attack that potted an NHL-high 265 tallies. His primary sidekick, Tyler Seguin, should also see the ice after missing the final 10 games of the regular season due to a small cut of his left Achilles tendon. The duo combined for 74 goals in 154 total tilts.
Undoubtedly, goalie Devan Dubynk (32-26-6 with a 2.33 GAA and .918 save percentage) has to perform yeoman’s work to keep the Wild close. Yet the harsh reality is that Dallas prevailed in four of the five matchups this year. Minnesota limped into the chase for the Stanley Cup on a five-game losing streak, too. The shorthanded squad honestly needs a miracle to grab momentum in the Lone Star State.
THURSDAY NHL FREE PICK: STARS -1.5