ST. LOUIS – Wild players knew going into the playoffs that St. Louis Blues antagonist Steve Ott would attempt to disrupt and pester them by any means necessary.
Two games in, Ott is living up to his reputation.
“Everybody knows what his job is,” Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “That’s what he does. That’s what he brings to the game. We’re good at tuning that out.”
It’s not easy. Ott clearly is trying to get inside the Wild’s head with extracurricular nonsense. He chirped nonstop at Jordan Schroeder, rubbed Jason Zucker’s helmet in a weird way and engaged in a tussle with Dubnyk in the crease in a 4-1 victory Saturday at Scottrade Center.
Ott seemingly took a shot at every Wild player at some point.
“You play the game hard and you play the game the right way and try and stay on that fine line without crossing it throughout the night,” Ott said.
The Wild would debate Ott’s assertion that he stays on the right side of that line. Dubnyk even got into the mix when he whacked Ott several times with his stick after Ott made contact with him in the crease.
“I hit him pretty good,” Dubnyk said. “The first one was a poke, the second one was good. But it was fair game. He crashed into me a couple of times before that, a few times after that. I don’t mind getting involved like that sometimes.
“I’m sure the whole building heard him scream,” Dubnyk added. “He was trying to let everybody know that it hurt him.”
Ott’s motivation seems clear: he hopes to provoke an angry response by the Wild that might result in a penalty or distract them into a mistake.
“Everybody has a role out there and you try and play extremely hard,” Ott said.
Ott seemed particularly talkative to Schroeder, who made his playoff debut Saturday. Schroeder skated away laughing after several exchanges.
“He’s a funny guy,” Schroeder said. “He thinks he’s chirping out there. He’s doing his role. I have to focus on doing mine.”
Asked what Ott was saying, Schroeder said: “Nothing serious. We keep that between us on the ice.”
Ott also targeted Zucker the first two games. On Saturday, he rubbed Zucker’s helmet for some reason after the whistle.
What was that all about?
“I don’t know,” Ott said. “You guys watch that stuff more than me. I think it’s just reactionary. Sometimes my brain is shut off.”
The Wild probably agrees with him on that point. Either way, the Wild said Ott’s act isn’t working.
“I love it,” Schroeder said. “I feed off of that. If he can get me going and get me upset, I play better. The more the better.”