By Jen Jimenez

The Minnesota Wild will play their first home game in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Monday. So far, the Wild have lost the first and second games in the series to the Dallas Stars. But it’s far from over. Here are four keys for the Minnesota Wild to even up the score.

Mikael Granlund

There is no question the Wild need Granlund to get the puck in the net. On Saturday in Dallas, Granlund was 0 for 7 on shots. If he gets just one of those in the back of the net, it’s a whole new hockey game. Granlund, in my opinion, has been one of the best players on the ice in games 1 and 2. He’s using his speed, keeping the puck and getting lots of great looks at the net. If Granny can use the home crowd to his advantage tonight and find some confidence, watch out!

Niederreiter + Haula + Pominville

This has been the Wild’s best line for quite a while now. There was no question the entire team missed Erik Haula in game one, but it’s fair to say Nino Niederreiter and Jason Pominville missed him the most. Together these three can control the puck and gain time in the Dallas zone, which is exactly what we need. Look for at least one goal tonight from this line.

Dubnyk

Dubs has to be the best player on the ice. He played well in game 1, but didn’t have enough help from his teammates to make a difference. Game 2 was a different story with that fluky goal that came over the back of the net and in. Without that lucky bounce, we’re likely heading to OT. If Dubs can keep playing like he has and we can get the offense going there is no question we can win both games at the X.

Fans

You’ve heard of the “home ice advantage,” and I’d say this year the fans really could make the difference. If you are one of those fans who, like me, will be at the X tonight, please make sure you get loud and support your team. If the Wild can feel the energy of the crowd and use it to fuel them on the ice, we (the fans) would have done our job. I know there are a lot of fans out there that are frustrated with the way the Wild have played this year, frustrated with the lack of offense, frustrated with how the team even made the playoffs. It’s OK to feel that way. But I ask that if you’re at the X tonight, please use your energy to cheer our team on to a victory. You can be a difference maker and I hope it’s a job you’ll take on with pride! Remember the Wild have been in this position before and come out on top. They seem to be at their best when their backs are against the wall, and never has that been truer than it is tonight. Go Wild!

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