The Minnesota Wild will be without veterans Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek when they open play on Thursday night against Dallas.
Minnesota will miss Parise (25 points in his last 28 playoff games) more than Vanek (five goals in his last 27 games) but that's two players with a combined 152 post-season appearances missing from the lineup.
The Star Tribune's Michael Russo pegged Mikko Koivu as someone who must step up. Minnesota will lean on veterans but their young core needs to carry the load too.
Here are five players that Minnesota will rely on to make it a memorable post season for Minnesota:
- 24-year-old Charlie Coyle has scored just two goals since March 1 but he still led the team in goals this season, doubling his previous career high.
- Jason Zucker scored 24 goals in 55 games last season but has struggled this year, netting just 13 goals in 71 games while being a healthy scratch a few times, too.
Zucker has the speed to keep up with the flashy Dallas Stars offense, but needs to reward that speed with some goals to put a disappointing regular season behind him.
- Nino Niederreiter has (quietly) had back-to-back 20 goal seasons. He owns seven career playoff goals, including his epic game winner in 2014.
- Mikael Granlund was injury free this season for the first time in his professional career. Similar to Niederreiter, Granlund has produced some goals in crunch time.
He will also center a line with Nino when the Wild open play Thursday night.
- Erik Haula will not play in game 1 but is skating at practice.
The former Golden Gopher has been red hot in the second half of the season and was shooting a ridiculous 18 percent from February to March.
The five youngsters have compiled 104 games of playoff experience. All have experienced a series win; with key players out of the lineup they will be relied upon if Minnesota makes a run this postseason.