Age gap: Wild center Eric Staal is the second-oldest participant in this year’s NHL All-Star Game, a year younger than 36-year-old Mark Giordano from Calgary. The youngest? Twenty-year-olds Quinn Hughes and Brady Tkachuk. Staal played alongside Tkachuk’s dad, Keith, at the 2009 All-Star Game. “You feel like, ‘Hey, you’re here with your peers.’ But in reality, I’m 12, 13, 14 years older than some of these guys, so that’s a huge age difference and a lot of life in between,” Staal said. “But when you’re talking hockey and you’re competing in games or events, you don’t feel any different. So that’s the weird part.”
Sticking with it: Winger Zach Parise cruised into the break on a five-game point streak, with five goals in that span, and all of those goals came with winger Jason Zucker’s stick. “I was going through a little drought,” Parise explained. “I broke one in practice, grabbed Zucker’s stick [and] scored right away. I said, ‘I’m using this tomorrow [vs. Pittsburgh],’ and I did. I’ve used it since.”
Helping hand: Defenseman Matt Dumba made an assist off the ice Monday night after leaving Xcel Energy Center following the Wild’s 5-4 loss to Florida. Dumba stopped to help a car parked in the middle of the road and offered to help get gas and restart the vehicle, with his good deed getting publicized on social media. “It’s just something that I would do if I saw it again,” he said. “It’s just kind of how I was brought up. I don’t think it’s too big of a deal.”
Second-half spotlight: Now that it’s done, the first half of the NHL season felt like a whirlwind — a blur of coaching changes, some pretty spectacular goals (remember Andrei Svechnikov’s lacrosse-style finish from October and December?) and a nonstop game of musical chairs in the standings. Once the league picks back up next week, there’ll be plenty to watch. Which teams will prevail in a Pacific Division that has one point separating the first and fifth seeds? How much closer will Alex Ovechkin get to Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goals record? Who will use the trade deadline to improve? The sprint to the finish line begins Monday. Buckle up.