ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Of course. Of course the Minnesota Wild’s first round playoff opponent is the St. Louis Blues, coached by none other than Mike Yeo, who was Minnesota’s coach just 14 months ago.
It’s the dominant storyline as the series gets started in St Paul on Wednesday night.
But it’s not, perhaps, the most significant
“This is the playoffs,” said Bruce Boudreau, who was hired as Wild coach this offseason. “You’re playing for the Stanley Cup, man. This is what every kid that’s playing out there has dreamed about their whole life.”
As if the Stanley Cup Playoffs needed any more juice, here comes Yeo, now the villain in black – er, make that blue – whom you’d have to imagine would find no greater personal satisfaction than knocking out the team that fired him.
His old players say it’s not personal.
“I liked Yeozie a lot,” said goalie Devan Dubnyk. “He gave me a ton of confidence, and I want him to have a ton of success. Other than right now.”
“It’s like when you’re younger growing up and you have a buddy on the other team,” said forward Charlie Coyle. “You can be buddies off the ice and do whatever off the ice, (but) once it’s on, he’s got the other jersey on or he’s across the bench, you’re going after what he wants, you know?”
The Blues have been a completely different team since Yeo took over for Ken Hitchcock on Feb. 1 – going 22-8-2, including a 15-2-2 stretch to close the regular season. Basically, the exact opposite of the Wild.
Yeah it was just like the good old days with Yeo, a slump in March that saw them win just three out of 15 games. They rebounded, though, to win five of their final six, and feel they’re once again playing the way they need to heading into the playoffs.
“You get away from it a little bit for a stretch, just like everybody does in an 82-game season,” Dubnyk said. “And it was just nice to get back to it at the end, and get back to that feeling of, every time we step on the ice we expect to win.”
“I think playoffs revitalize everybody,” Boudreau said. “So it should be good.”
So should this series.