ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Playoff hockey returns to St. Paul Wednesday night as the Minnesota Wild host the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at Xcel Energy Center.
The pregame party in downtown St. Paul was canceled because of rain. The Wild and Blues face off at about 8:30 for Game 1.
The hockey arena is already filled with towels for Wild fans. Volunteers with Horace Mann Elementary School in St. Paul were at Xcel Energy Center bright and early Wednesday morning. They are responsible for placing them on each and every one of the 19,000 seats.
This year’s design says, “We are Committed.”
Xcel Energy Center will be rocking at puck drop. But, of course, the party has been going on all day. Molly Rosenblatt shows us how the State of Hockey is celebrating ahead of Game 1.
With several hours before face off, we found dozens of fans gearing up at the Hockey Lodge. Excitement for the first game of the first round of playoffs is in full force.
“I’m pretty stoked. Every second of the playoffs is just rowdy, wild, loud,” Wild fan Matthew Parins said. “It’s pretty cool to get the towels going. It’s pretty wicked.”
For season ticket holder Matthew Parins, playoff fan gear is a must year after year.
“Attending the games, get some merch, trying to keep these guys going, trying to reward the team with what I can do to help keep things the way they’re going it’s been so great,” Parins said.
And from the super fan to the super athlete fan, we found Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph stopping in for some new Wild threads for the big game tonight.
“As a professional athlete here in the Twin Cities, I’ve gotten to know a lot of the guys on the team and you know when you build the personal relationships with them you want to see them go out and have success on the ice,” Rudolph said.
Rudolph opted for the nostalgic retro Minnesota North Stars jersey for Game 1.
“You always watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Playoff hockey is completely different than regular season hockey, so I’m excited to get down here. The X is always rocking,” Rudolph said.
While many fans were sticking to the T-shirts, hats and jerseys, I wanted something a little more festive.
While our own Nina Moini loaned me her most prized possession, I did some shopping on my own and found a Nordy for myself.
It’s the opening round, and Game 1 in a best-of-seven series. The Wild have spent the past three days practicing and focusing.
The Wild earned home ice advantage for this series by virtue of having their best regular season in franchise history — they had the most wins (49) and total points (106).
They don’t possess a prolific scorer like the Blues do in Vladimir Tarasenko, who is the most dangerous player in this series. But what the Wild does have is balanced scoring from all four lines. This is that rare time in the post-season when Minnesota does have the better overall offensive team.
But as always in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a hot goalie can make the difference. Devan Dubnyk is well-rested and has to revert to the way he was playing the first four months of the season. He had a rougher month of March, but he’s the guy.