Every single player in the Blackhawks lineup (other than backup goaltender Henrik Karlsson) for Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals had played in a Stanley Cup playoff game before.
Nine members of the Minnesota Wild hadn't.
"It's probably an emotional level that I've never been to in my life before," Wild center Kyle Brodziak said before the game. "That's going to be my challenge -- being able to put the emotions aside and keep my focus."
Even behind the bench, the experience disparity was jarring. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was coaching his 140th playoff game. Minnesota's Mike Yeo was coaching his first (though he was an assistant coach when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009).
Yeo hoped that the Wild's mad scramble to get into the postseason as the eighth seed, which included a do-or-die road game at Colorado to close out the season, helped mentally prepare his team for the heightened pressure of the playoffs.
"Dealing with those emotions, we'd like to think should help us," he said. "The fact that we've had to perform under pressure and deal with those emotions, we think that should help."
One of the Wild's key players, 19-year-old rookie defenseman Jonas Brodin, said he was excited, but nervous.
"I'm nervous before every game," he said. "It's a good thing to be nervous. It means you're ready."