For Jordan Schroeder, a bad case of the nerves turned out to be a best-case scenario.
Schroeder, a healthy scratch for the first four games of the Wild’s first-round playoff series with the Stars, finally got his chance Friday in Dallas.
He responded by scoring a goal — his first in four career playoff games — and flashing his speed in the Wild’s 5-4 overtime victory.
“I had nerves in the morning,” Schroeder said. “But they [were] good nerves. It gives me that extra spark, and you just want to help your team win.”
And it eased the frustration of not being able to do much to help his team over the first four games. “It’s really hard,” Schroeder said. “Ask any guy who goes through it here. Mentally, you have to be ready. You’re upset you’re not playing, but you’re still cheering on your teammates. So, mentally, there are a lot of ups and downs. But you have to be ready, when your name is called, to make an impact.”
Interim coach John Torchetti went to Schroeder because of his speed, and he showed a lot of that on the forecheck, once jetting down the ice to help the Wild avoid an icing call.
“He brought speed, a lot of speed,” Torchetti said. “He pushed them back. We pushed the pace pretty well. We did a better job of backing them off.”
The Wild will have to do more of that in Game 6 Sunday; Torchetti wants to see his players ride the Stars closer, chipping away at Dallas’ puck possession time.
The good news is it appears Schroeder will have a second chance to do even more.
“You guys don’t see what guys have to go through to prepare themselves for each and every day,” captain Mikko Koivu said of Schroeder. “And not knowing if they’re going to play or not. He’s been doing a lot of things in order to be ready.”
Taking a lesson
It happened again Friday. The score was tied 3-3 when Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski sent a shot toward the net that bounced off Wild defensemen Marco Scandella and Nate Prosser and past goaltender Devan Dubnyk at 8:56 of the third period.
This was just the latest in a series of fluke goals that have bedeviled the Wild over the last few weeks. But to Dubnyk’s credit, he didn’t let it bother him. He remained composed and didn’t give up another goal; indeed, his stop on Goligoski’s point-blank shot in the overtime preceded Koivu’s game-winner.
“That’s his personality,” Torchetti said. “[Dubnyk] is pretty calm and cool. I can probably take some lessons from him myself. He does a great job of that. He brings a calmness to the team.”
• Torchetti wants to see his team do better on faceoffs after Dallas had a 44-33 edge Friday. “We have to do a way better job,” he said. “We talked about it this afternoon, we have to be dialed in a lot better.”
• Torchetti reiterated his belief that Jason Zucker’s recent play indicates he could be on the verge of a big game. “He’s playing with a lot more confidence,” he said. “He’s doing a better job on his walls. And, once you’re playing with a better checking mentality, you’re going to have the puck. He’s around the puck more now.”
• Thomas Vanek said he felt good after skating with the team in Saturday’s practice. “He didn’t do a whole lot of bumping,” Torchetti said. “So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow and take it from there.”