Up The Gut
The Minnesota Wild are about as deep up the middle as it gets in today’s league. They are not forced to use any player at center because they have so many.
That allows them to put guys on the wing if someone is not having a good faceoff night, slide guys up and down the lineup and more. In the playoffs flexibility is paramount.
On paper, four of the Wild’s top five scorers are listed as centers. Clearly not all four are playing center all the time because your fourth line center is not going to be getting enough minutes to put up 50+ points.
The fact all those guys are capable of playing through the middle makes it tougher to plan for. The aforementioned Haula is no slouch at the center spot either.
Martin Hanzal is a handful up the middle even if his stats have taken a dive. Joel Eriksson Ek is also capable of playing multiple spots too.
Faceoff wins are going to be huge in this series, especially for the Blues in their defensive end. With so much talent up the middle, Minnesota has the freedom to be more aggressive in the circle.
Who cares if someone gets kicked out? Your linemate probably has centering experience anyway. So, it becomes like team golf where someone can go for the green because the next guy can get the job done if you mess up.
The injury problems the Blues have had up the middle, most notably Paul Stastny, will compound this issue.