ANAHEIM, Calif. – Earlier this season, the Wild’s offense tended to flow from the same sources.
Take November, when the team potted 44 goals. More than half of those, 24 to be exact, were courtesy of forwards Eric Staal, Jason Zucker and Nino Niederreiter.
Those three have remained among the Wild’s top goal scorers, but others have joined the pack — most noticeably winger Zach Parise.
“It’s huge,” Staal said. “I’ve said that many times; the depth is key, especially in the postseason, and he’s feeling it right now. It seems to be hitting the back of the net for him regularly. That’s a good thing. You see the confidence.
“Missing half the year, I don’t care who you are, it takes time. He’s looked real solid here lately, and hopefully that confidence continues because it’ll be huge for us.”
Parise has been on a roll lately, toting a season-high seven-game point streak into action Wednesday against the Ducks and a three-game goal streak in which he’s buried five. This is the best he’s looked since he returned in January following back surgery that fixed a herniated disc. With the Wild on the brink of the playoffs, the timing of his emergence is certainly advantageous for the team since the opposition now must worry about more than one line.
“I did a lot of good, hard work throughout the recovery process,” Parise said. “I was confident that everything was going to turn out OK.”
With 15 goals through 40 games, which ranks fifth on the Wild, Parise is converting at a 31-goal pace through 82. That’s the most productive clip he’s been at since he scored 33 in 2014-15, an effectiveness that Staal isn’t surprised Parise has recaptured.
“He’s an elite player,” Staal said. “He’s been in the league a long time. He’s been a top guy on his team probably his whole life. So, yeah, I expected him to get back to what I know of him as player.”
First impression good
The Wild’s evaluation of forward Jordan Greenway continued Wednesday, as the rookie returned to the lineup after sitting out Monday. Winger Tyler Ennis was the odd-man out against the Ducks.
“[Greenway’s] already shown me he’s really responsible,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “So I have faith in him. I want to see how good he is. I’d like to see him push the envelope, not just be average, and he’s shown that he’s going to be a really good NHL player.”
That’s been Greenway’s focus in his first three games, to be dependable, and he feels if he continues to take that approach, the offensive contributions that have been his trademark so far in his career will follow.
“As long as I keep doing the right things defensively, the offensive part will come,” Greenway said. “I’ve been patient. Just continue to try to build every day.”
Strong start for Soucy
Defenseman Carson Soucy merited rave reviews for his NHL debut Monday, and now the challenge will be to duplicate that impact.
“For us to have belief and faith in him, he’s gotta do it for a couple more games,” Boudreau said.
Billed as a defensive-minded player, Soucy helped the Wild through the neutral zone and the offensive third. He had three shots on goal and drew a penalty when he broke the puck out of the Wild’s end.
“I just want to fit in now,” Soucy said. “I just want to play my game, and I just want to be consistent with how we approach things and how we’re going to go moving forward. I want to fit in here and find my role and just play with consistency.”
Kunin injury update
Rookie forward Luke Kunin underwent successful surgery Tuesday at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to fix the torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. He was injured March 4 against the Red Wings.