The odds against staging a first-round upset of the Dallas Stars just got a whole lot longer for the Minnesota Wild
The team confirmed on Wednesday that injured forwards Zach Parise and Thomas Vanek will not travel to Dallas and are out for Games 1 and 2.
These are devastating losses for a club that enters the postseason as the lowest scoring (2.60 goals per game) of any in the Western Conference bracket. Parise was the Wild's leading goal scorer this year with 25, while Vanek had 18.
And this may just be the beginning of the bad news. Parise's availability beyond Game 2 is in doubt as he tries to work his way into playing condition after suffering a back injury. It's possible that he'll miss the entire series. Vanek, meanwhile, is out week-to-week with an upper-body injury.
The Wild may also be without top penalty-killing forward Erik Haula for Game 1. Haula is with the team in Dallas, but listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
The line on the opener is five goals. Based on the ugly roster tweeted out Wednesday morning by Wild beat writer Mike Russo, and Dallas's league-leading offense, you might want to take the over.
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• No official word yet on Tyler Seguin's availability for the opener, but Stars coach Lindy Ruff seemed optimistic that his star forward will be "available to play" against the Wild.
Seguin (Achilles tendon) split reps with Patrick Sharp on the top line alongside Jamie Benn and Cody Eakin on Wednesday, suggesting that Ruff is hedging his bets ... or, at least, trying to keep Minnesota guessing.
Top-nine forward Mattias Janmark (upper body) is also expected to be available for Game 1.
• Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) practiced in the starter's net on Wednesday and was the first off the ice after practice, suggesting that he'll be the starter tonight against the Rangers. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan remained non-committal, however, saying only that Fleury is "a game-time decision."
Fleury hasn't played since suffering a concussion on March 31 against Nashville. He returned to practice on Monday and told reporters he does not have any lingering symptoms.
If Fleury can't go, the duty likely falls to third-stringer Jeff Zatkoff, the only other goalie present at this morning's skate. Backup Matt Murray is also dealing with an injury, believed to be head-related.
Defenseman Olli Maata (lower body) skated in practice for the third consecutive day and will also be a game-time decision. Center Evgeni Malkin was not on the ice and will miss Game 1. He remains day-to-day.
• Chicago forward Andrew Ladd (wife in labor) is uncertain for Game 1. If he's out, Richard Panik will take his spot on the top line.
• Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic, who hasn't played since injuring his right knee on March 31 against Columbus, is considered likely for Game 1 against Florida. He's skated hard in back-to-back practices, but the decision remains in the hands of team doctors. If cleared, Hamonic will dress on Thursday.