By Ren Clayton

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Minnesota Wild kickoff their first-round playoff series against the St. Louis Blues Monday night in St. Paul.

“More than anything, it’s understanding of, you know, how tough it’s gonna be. You know, when you get in the playoffs, it’s extremely hard,” said Wild head coach Dean Evason.

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The Blues have the experience. They won the Stanley Cup in 2019.

“They know what it takes. So we’ve gotta get our noses in there and figure out what it takes very early,” Evason said.

The Wild are regulars in the playoffs, but haven’t made it out of the first round in seven years. Monday night, trade deadline acquisition Jacob Middleton will make his postseason debut.

“Tough to get to sleep last night just thinking of all the scenarios that could go down, but it’s something you dream about, to get this opportunity, so I’m excited,” Middleton said.

(credit: CBS)

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The Wild have played the Blues three times this season and lost all three. The last two came just a couple weeks ago in overtime in St. Louis. Because of the Winter Classic at Target Field, this will be the first time they play at Xcel Energy Center.

“It’s the playoffs and everybody’s back to zero and it’s first to four,” said center Joel Eriksson Ek.

“It was hard hitting. It was intense. You can expect that one steroids pretty much for tonight,” said Blues center and captain Ryan O’Reilly.

Though the Wild and the Blues have the second and fourth best records in the conference, because of the playoff format, they meet in the first round.

“I’m just happy to be here, you know. This is a good position to be in. So however the bracket’s work out or how it goes, you still gotta beat good teams to win the Stanley Cup,” Middleton said.

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“It would be nice to see that change, but you know, for the series though it’s something I’m excited for,” O’Reilly said. “I like this matchup and it’s gonna be a good one.”

Ren Clayton