Wild winger Jordan Greenway has had quite a few new experiences during his rookie campaign, such as his first regular-season goal, first goal streak and first multipoint game.
But what isn’t different for the 22-year-old is being part of a push to the playoffs, a journey that is much more meaningful now than it was a year ago.
“Just being a part of the team this year, the whole year, it’s much more important to me,” Greenway said. “… I’ve been here the whole year, being able to go through it with all the guys, the ups and downs. That’s what makes the game so fun. It’s been really good. Even though there’s definitely been some ups and down, a roller coaster, it’s been great, and it still is.”
Greenway is approaching his one-year anniversary in the NHL. He signed with the Wild on March 26 after wrapping up his three-season college career at Boston University — a tenure that feels ages ago to Green-way, who still keeps tabs on the college hockey scene.
Although he acquitted himself well to the pro game, especially in a first-round matchup against the Winnipeg Jets in which Greenway chipped in a goal and assist, his confidence has surged this season and his development has been steady.
“There’s obvious growth, and he’s going to be a real good player,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Sometimes it takes two years, three years, but he’s going to be a power forward in this league for a lot of years to come.”
Greenway’s 11 goals are tied for fourth in team history for a rookie. He spent the weekend lower in the lineup, but he’d previously been skating on the No. 1 line — a nod to his progress that doesn’t surprise his former Boston University coach.
“He’s a guy that’s got an awful lot of physical skill,” said David Quinn, who’s now the New York Rangers’ bench boss. “He’s maturing daily, and they got a heck of a player.”
Just in case
The Wild rolled out the same lineup Sunday that rolled by the Rangers 5-2 Saturday, but the team did call up forward Matt Read from the American Hockey League under emergency conditions before the game in case someone was unable to play. He was reassigned to the AHL’s Iowa team after the game.
“They’re feeling like hockey players,” Boudreau said. “They’re sore. At this time of year, when you’ve got a push and if you don’t have any bumps and bruises, then you’re not doing your job.”
Saturday wasn’t the first time winger Jason Zucker returned to action after suffering what looked like a serious injury.
A similar situation played out in Nashville on March 5, when Zucker’s right leg was taken out by sliding Predators winger Craig Smith. Although he had to exit the game, he eventually resumed playing.
“It takes a tough kid,” Boudreau said. “What looked like a dangerous play [Saturday], to come back — I don’t think any of us that saw it thought that he was going to be in that period, let alone the game. But he’s built tough.”
Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei fell on Zucker’s right leg, twisting it awkwardly.
“When you see a guy go down like that, it’s scary,” said winger Marcus Foligno, who helped Zucker off the ice. “Any time you grab a knee and you stay down, you think of the worst thing possible. Zucks is so big in this room, and he’s been playing really well for us. A guy goes down like that you gotta think of the next person up to step up, but it was nice to see him come back and obviously play another good game.”