The Wild’s home finale won’t change its fate, its first non-playoff finish in seven years, but Thursday will still be memorable since center Nico Sturm is set to make his NHL debut against the Bruins.
(Photo: Katlyn Gambill/Minnesota Wild)
“Just trying to soak it all in and just play hockey, play the way that got me here,” Sturm said. “I’m excited. My family gets to experience it with me, and guys have been super helpful and supported me today. I’m just going to enjoy the day.”
Sturm slots into the Wild’s lineup only three days after he signed a one-year, entry-level contract to leave Clarkson and turn pro. He’ll be a restricted free agent this summer.
“He’s not going to learn everything in a day,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Probably going to be a little quicker than he’s been used to at Clarkson, but it looks like he can skate and he’s a big kid. Got a smile on his face, so he’s going to have fun.”
Winger Zach Parise will miss this game and Saturday’s. Boudreau said Parise is sick, but he sat out four games with a lower-body injury before playing Tuesday.
Backup Alex Stalock will be in net, and this is also the first time the Wild and Bruins meet on the ice since they swapped forwards – Charlie Coyle and Ryan Donato – before the trade deadline in February.
“The experience has been great so far,” Donato said. “I can’t complain. Obviously, it’s different being away from home for the first time and being away from Boston, a city I grew up in and loved. This has been a second home for me so far. They have been very welcoming to me, and I can’t say enough how thankful I am for the whole experience so far.”
Ryan Donato-Eric Staal-Luke Kunin
Jason Zucker-Joel Eriksson Ek-Kevin Fiala
Jordan Greenway-Nico Sturm-Victor Rask
Marcus Foligno-Eric Fehr-J.T. Brown
Ryan Suter-Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin-Brad Hunt
Anthony Bitetto-Greg Pateryn
45: Points in 39 games for Sturm with Clarkson this season.
23: Saves for Stalock in a 4-0 loss to the Bruins Jan.8.
16: Power play goals by Wild defensemen.
24: Points by defenseman Jared Spurgeon since Jan.3.
16: Points for Donato in 20 games with the Wild.
About the Bruins:
Boston is second in the Atlantic Division, sitting at 48 wins and 105 points. The Bruins are coming off a 6-2 win over the Blue Jackets Tuesday in Columbus. Before then, they dropped two straight after winning five out of six. Winger Brad Marchand leads the team in points with 100. His 36 goals are one shy of team leader David Pastrnak’s 37.