“Beast mode,” is how Wild coach Bruce Boudreau described Jordan Greenway’s play in the Wild’s 3-0 victory over Edmonton last Tuesday.
The power forward was living up to the description of his position, using his 6-6, 225-pound frame to keep possession of the puck and defenders at bay as he assisted on two goals during the game’s first 13 minutes.
But just after he bulled his way around the net, fending off the Oilers’ 6-3, 215-pound Riley Sheahan with one arm and then passing to Carson Soucy, whose shot set up Eric Staal’s rebound goal, Greenway was blasted by a shoulder-to-chin check from Edmonton winger Josh Archibald.
“You take a hit like that,” Greenway said, “you’re going to feel it the next couple days.”
Greenway left that game and missed the next two while in concussion protocol. He returned to practice Monday as the Wild prepared for back-to-back road games at Dallas on Tuesday and St. Louis on Wednesday. Forward Kevin Fiala (lower-body injury) also returned to practice after a three-game absence, and the team reassigned forward Gerry Mayhew to Iowa of the AHL. That leaves Boudreau with lineup options for Tuesday’s game.
“They looked good. They looked like they had a lot of energy, a lot of jump,” Boudreau said of Greenway and Fiala. “They’ve got the green light to play. … Hopefully, we’ll have a tough decision to make tomorrow with 13 forwards.”
If Greenway is the choice, Boudreau is hopeful the big winger can pick up where he left off.
“He was starting to play with the confidence that he’s a big man and a strong man and he’s not a first-year player anymore,” the coach said. “When he has those things going for him, usually good things fall for him.”
Greenway agreed with Boudreau’s critique.
“It’s something I have to continue to do more consistently. It’s going to help my game,” said Greenway, who hasn’t scored yet this season but has five assists over his past five games. “Being 6-6 and two-whatever-I-am [pounds], it’s definitely something I want to use to my advantage and make sure it’s a focus point for me.”
On the hit that sidelined him, Greenway saw no ill intentions from Archibald.
“It was a good hit,” he said. “Bad play for them; we scored.”
Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk, who missed the past two games because of an upper-body injury suffered against Edmonton, likely will play Wednesday at St. Louis, with Alex Stalock penciled in to start Tuesday.
“He’s going to play one of the two,” Boudreau said of Dubnyk, who landed on his back when he was bowled over by teammate Ryan Donato. “We haven’t decided which one yet.” Boudreau added that starting Stalock in the first of back-to-back games “makes good sense to me” based on his 30-save performance in a 5-1 victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.
Dubnyk said he’s improving each day. “It’s still sore, but it’s not really affecting me as far as getting around the ice,” he said.
Staal heating up
Through the season’s first seven games, Staal had a gruesome stat line: no goals, one assist, a minus-10 rating and only 10 shots on goal. He’s turned it around in the past four games with three goals, two assists a plus-3 rating and 13 shots on goal. His six points this season are tied for the team lead.
What’s happened with Staal, who turns 35 on Tuesday?
“He looks like his legs are underneath him. His stride is longer. It’s looking like Eric Staal,” Boudreau said, also pointing to a leg injury that hampered the veteran early.