Chris Stewart never has been in this position before, rotating in and out of the lineup.

The Wild winger emerged as an NHL regular after debuting with Colorado and was a staple with St. Louis for quite a while before continuing his career in Buffalo and Anaheim.

And just last season, his second with the Wild following an abbreviated post-trade deadline stint in 2015, the rugged forward suited up for 79 games.

"It's frustrating," said Stewart, who has been a healthy scratch six times this season. "But I think as you get older, you kind of just learn to worry about things that you can control. You get caught up worrying about those kind of things, it's only going to make your game worse."

What Stewart can dictate, though, is how he performs when he does get the nod.

And that's a perspective the 30-year-old is focusing on after resetting during the All-Star break to ensure he is involved as the Wild chases a playoff berth.

"I'm a team guy first," Stewart said. "But that being said, I've got to grab my spot here."

The Wild reconvened from the break with only 12 healthy forwards, but it appears someone soon will be the odd man out.

Winger Nino Niederreiter, who has been sidelined the past eight games because of a left ankle bone bruise, could be back on the ice Friday when the Wild plays the Vegas Golden Knights — the first game of a back-to-back this weekend with the finale Saturday in Dallas against the Stars.

"He's looking good," coach Bruce Boudreau said of Niederreiter. "Unless something changes, he'll probably play."

At the start of the season, Stewart was a fixture in the lineup, and the steady minutes seemed to suit him. He potted four goals in the first three games and had six through six — a productivity that helped the Wild weather an early onslaught of injuries.

But since then, Stewart has scored only twice, most recently Dec. 19 against the Senators. Twice in his past four games and on four occasions over the past 10 contests he's been a spectator — absences that can help be explained by the matchups.

"When we're playing heavier teams," Boudreau said, "Chris is the kind of guy who's going to be in there. When we play a team that's more skating up and down, then maybe he's not going to be in there."

Stewart understands this; communication with Boudreau has been honest. But he still wants to be in the mix.

"No one wants to be a healthy scratch," he said.

"You want to play every game."

The schedule the rest of the way might help Stewart accomplish that goal.

While the Wild still will encounter its fair share of speedy opponents such as the Golden Knights, the urgency that ratchets up post-All-Star break could spark tighter, more physical clashes reminiscent of the playoffs.

This type of atmosphere meshes well with Stewart's style, as a determined, forechecking game is key to winning battles — especially on the road, where all of Stewart's goals have come this season.

There's also the chance these competitive games require a shootout to declare a winner, and Stewart has been lights-out this season amid a perfect 3-for-3 showing.

"Obviously, I'm not going to score every time," Stewart said.

"But I know when I get in on a breakaway, I think the game just slows down for me. I like being in those pressure situations and come through for my teammates."

With the Wild jostling for a wild-card playoff spot, the rest of the season likely will mimic that type of tension.

Not only does Stewart have experience withstanding that vibe in shootouts, but after taking six trips to the postseason, he's also familiar with what it takes to make the cut.

"It kind of seems like every game's a playoff game," he said. "You approach it with that mentality, or you won't make the playoffs. I think the second half here after the All-Star break, we got a lot of intradivision games. They'll be high emotion and high intensity. Those are games I want to be in. Those are ones I want to be counted on for."