Wild center Nico Sturm will remember getting the ice to himself for a few laps during warm-ups.
He won’t forget that his parents and younger brother were in the seats to watch, and he definitely will reminisce about going head-to-head with Bruins legend Patrice Bergeron.
“It’s pretty cool,” Sturm said.
Just last week, Sturm was still competing collegiately for Clarkson. But on Thursday, he made his NHL debut with the Wild in a 3-0 loss to the Bruins at Xcel Energy Center that will be etched in his memory.
“Once I’m back on campus next week, then everything’s going to settle in and [when] I realize what happened, I’m probably going to be a little overwhelmed,” Sturm said. “But for now, you can’t get starstruck against the best players in the world. I just try to stick to my guns, and I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”
Sturm finished with three shots on net, two hits, two blocked shots and four faceoff wins in 10 tries during 13 minutes, 20 seconds of ice time – this after he led the Wild onto the ice for its pregame skate and was left out there for a handful of seconds before the rest of the team joined him.
“It’s just a common practice now I guess,” Sturm said.
While the speed of play was faster than he’s used to, Sturm also realized he had more time than he thought in some instances.
“Guys are full speed, but they don’t necessarily always step on you,” explained Sturm, who signed a one-year, entry-level contract Monday. “So you’re tempted to throw the puck away sometimes when you don’t need to. But other than that, everything’s just a little bit quicker.”
Aside from Sturm’s eagerness, there wasn’t much energy on the ice between two teams that had nothing at stake in the standings. Boston is locked into the No.2 seed in the Atlantic Division, and the Wild was eliminated from contention Tuesday.
“He looked like he wanted to play and that the game actually meant something to him,” coach Bruce Boudreau said of Sturm. “It was a pretty emotionless game on both sides I think. It's very frustrating. I was getting mad on the bench saying, 'We aren't getting shut out again.’”
But that’s how it ended for the Wild, with the team getting blanked for a 10th time this season.
“It’s tough to put it into words when you’re going into a game and you know there’s really nothing on the line anymore,” defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. “I think we’ve been there for six years where every game meant something. It’s definitely tough.”
This result dropped the Wild to 16-18-7 on home ice this season. The 39 points banked in St. Paul are the lowest for a full-length season in franchise history.
“I was more disappointed for the fans to finish the season like that,” Boudreau said.