By Mike Max

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The players of the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues will decide this playoff series, not the coaches behind the bench.

Still, everyone knew this moment would come, ever since Mike Yeo stepped in to take over the head coaching duties with the Blues. As a former coach of the Wild just last season, he knows the personnel on the team better than anyone.

But does that really give him any advantage going into this series?

“We’re definitely on the road, we know that we’ll be on the road tonight, we know that the building will be a tough building for us to play in and we’ll have to get used to that quickly,” Yeo said.

So Mike Yeo is back sleeping in his own bed — a luxury not afforded most visiting coaches — but that’s what happens when you come back to a former team.

There’s too much at stake, with the game itself, with what’s on the line,” Yeo said. “It’s pretty hard to get caught up in that kind of stuff. We’re pretty focused on our task here.”

You could call it the “white elephant effect” — everyone knows Mike Yeo is back to coach the St. Louis Blues against his old team, and everyone wants to pretend that it’s not all that important.

“I think it’s more for the media than it is for us. We’re worried about playing our game and going out there and getting a good start,” Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. “You guys ask about it more than us. We don’t really notice it.”

All anyone on either team really wants to do is find a way to win Wednesday night — the first game of the first round of the playoffs.

“I’m super excited for tonight, especially when you haven’t started a playoff series at home yet,” Wild right wing Nino Niederreiter said. “I think everybody’s super pumped about it, and the crowd is going to be phenomenal. They’re going to make sure they give us energy.”

Mike Max