TORONTO – Forwards Victor Rask, Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala were all acquired in trades in the second half of last season by former Wild General Manager Paul Fenton. The decisions were the most significant of Fenton’s rocky, 14-month tenure in charge of the team.
But that’s not all these players have in common.
They’ve also been a healthy scratch at least once this young season after Fiala was the latest to sit Tuesday against the Maple Leafs during the second stop of a three-game, Eastern Canada road trip.
This was the first time Fiala was scratched since he joined the Wild.
“Sometimes you just need a jolt,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Everything’s going fine and you’re saying, ‘Well I’m close,’ and this and that. Sometimes you need a real jolt of reality. This game, it’s not just given to you. You gotta earn it, and Kevin’s gotta earn it.
“We count on him for a lot, and we haven’t gotten as much out of [him] as we’d like right now.”
Fiala was hyped as someone who could add a dynamic presence to the Wild’s top-six forward group when he was brought in at the trade deadline in February in exchange for forward Mikael Granlund, who went to the Predators to complete the swap.
So far, though, he’s only shown flashes of that skill; in five games, the 23-year-old has just one assist, seven shots and is a minus-3 — this after Fiala contributed three goals and finished with seven points in 19 games last season after the trade.
“Obviously, I’ve got to be better,” Fiala said. “I didn’t show what I can do these few games. The good thing is it’s still the beginning of the season. I just keep working hard and hope for the best.
“It was up and down. I think I had a pretty good game in Winnipeg there and then went down again. I just have to find consistency. When I find my game, just keep it up there. That’s been missing. And obviously goals, too, and points. I didn’t do a lot.”
The Wild is hoping scratching Fiala will have the same effect on him as it did Donato, who returned to the lineup Monday in the 2-0 win over the Senators after being idle Saturday for the 7-4 loss to Pittsburgh in the home opener. Although he didn’t factor into the offense, Donato earned praise from Boudreau for his work ethic.
Rask also made an impact after being sidelined; he scored the game-winning goal in that victory against Ottawa after being scratched the first three games.
“I want to be in the lineup like everybody in this league,” Fiala said. “I’m not happy at all right now.
“So next time I’m in, I’m going to try everything to make sure this doesn’t happen anymore.”
NHL game No. 1
With Fiala out as the extra forward, winger Gerald Mayhew made his NHL debut Tuesday after getting called up from the minors Sunday.
Mayhew, who’s from Wyandotte, Mich., had a group of 12 family members and friends in attendance.
“Just play simple,” said the 26-year-old, who was Iowa’s leading goal scorer last season in the American Hockey League. “Don’t try to do too many things out there. Just play my game and continue to do what I’ve been doing and hopefully good things will happen.”
They did. He scored a goal with 62 seconds left to play.
Dubnyk returns in net
After posting a 26-save shutout Monday in the Wild’s first win, backup Alex Stalock was in his familiar perch on the bench at puck drop Tuesday backing up No. 1 Devan Dubnyk.
“You’re always tempted when a goalie gets a shutout [to go back to him],” Boudreau said. “But I had my experiences that sometimes the second game, it’s a little bit of a letdown. You can’t stay at that sharpness, so you’ll need a couple of days to regain that form. He’ll play again in the next couple days.”