After trading blows in a heated battle against the St. Louis Blues in the first round of the playoffs, the Minnesota Wild expects a much, dare we say, friendlier series against the Chicago Blackhawks.
While disdain is hard to find, Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who wasn't on last year's Wild squad, knows players left over from that team are hungry for revenge against Chicago.
"I'm sure there are some guys that would like to give a little payback for last year's playoffs," Dubnyk said, according to the Pioneer Press.
Dubnyk was fantastic in his only two starts against Chicago with the Wild this season. He stopped 56 of 57 shots in a pair of Wild wins; a 3-0 shutout at Xcel Energy Center and a 2-1 win at United Center.
Don't expect a dirty series
St. Louis brought a rough and tumble, even dirty, style to the game. The biggest difference between the Blues and Blackhawks, head coach Mike Yeo says, is there won't be nearly as much extracurricular stuff after the whistle.
"It's a different intensity in the game," Yeo said. "There's not the scrums, there's not as much of that stuff going on after the whistles. That's probably a little bit more because the two teams are built differently (than the Blues). But it is a good rivalry. It's been that way. We certainly remember the feelings of getting knocked out twice by these guys."
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, according to the Chicago Tribune, said the Wild are "coming in hot" and the Blackhawks "will find out" how much better they are from last season season – a Wild team that most experts say, despite losing the series in six games, was the better team.
Bickell: 'We need to break them'
Bryan Bickell has been a thorn in the Wild's side the past two years, playing like the scoring machine that no other team in the league thinks he is.
But Bickell, per the Chicago Sun Times, believes Chicago's best chance to score on Minnesota's stingy defense and goaltending will be to "break them" between the circles and in front of the net.
“I think a little grit in front of the net is going to be important,” he said. “There’ll be a lot of cross-checks and bruises and things like that, but the will to get there is what we need.”
Game 1 of the best-of-seven series is Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Chicago.