EDMONTON, ALBERTA – Before the Wild embarked on a two-game road trip through Western Canada this week, winger Mats Zuccarello’s objective was to boost his confidence after a recent dip in his play, try to enjoy hockey and stop overanalyzing what was happening.
“I’m telling you right now it’s no fun to feel that way and feel like you’re not up to your best,” he said Sunday. “There’s nothing you can do but work hard and show up.”
After he assisted on a pair of goals in the 4-3 shootout victory Wednesday at Vancouver, including linemate Alex Galchenyuk’s tying goal that sent the game to overtime, it certainly looked like Zuccarello accomplished that mission.
“Felt good,” he said. “Obviously every time you win and you’re trying to play your best, you felt better. It’s only one game. Gotta keep it consistently. I think that’s been an issue this year, playing good and then for some reason you slough off a little bit. You want to play good every game.”
Zuccarello’s two-assist effort gave him his first points in seven games, a dry spell that went along with a demotion from the top line to the second — a performance that could start a spiral in the other direction.
“At some point, you’re done beating yourself down,” Zuccarello said. “You kind of know I’m better than this and just stop thinking about everything. Just enjoy. You get to a point it can’t get worse. If your mind’s not good, it’s not fun. Relax. I think that’s important.”
While the Wild was wrapping up its road trip in Edmonton, prospect Calen Addison was also in action in Alberta — continuing his junior season in the Western Hockey League with Lethbridge.
The Wild acquired Addison, Galchenyuk and a first-round draft pick in the Jason Zucker trade with Pittsburgh on Feb.10. Through 43 games, he had 10 goals and 47 points; four of those goals came on the power play.
“He’s going to turn pro next year, and we’ll see where he goes and take it step by step,” General Manager Bill Guerin said. “He’s a guy we want to make sure we go through the right process. … He’s extremely important to us. He’s very good on the power play, kind of like that quarterback-type guy. You could call him one of these modern-day defensemen where he’s not 6-4, but he moves the puck and has great hockey sense.
“And he competes real hard. Just knowing him from my time in Pittsburgh, he’s a good kid and he wants to be a good player.”
Love from the locals
Mike Soucy expected close to 300 people to make the hour-and-a-half drive from Irma, Alberta, to Rogers Place Friday for his son Carson’s first NHL game in Edmonton.
“We got so much support from the community, and that’s what small towns are about,” Mike Soucy said.
The Wild made three lineup changes vs. the Oilers. Center Victor Rask replaced winger Ryan Donato on the fourth line. Greg Pateryn subbed in for Brad Hunt on the third defensive pairing, and backup Alex Stalock got the start in net.
With the tweaks, every player got in at least one game on the dads/mentors trip, which interim coach Dean Evason explained was part of the motivation behind the moves. But he also said Pateryn has played well.
As for Rask, this was his first appearance since Feb. 1; he was a healthy scratch for the previous eight games.
“Victor before the break was playing extremely well,” Evason said. “I think it was one game when he came back and didn’t really have the same jump that he had. We’ve challenged him to play the game with pace, at a high pace. His skill level is extremely high, but if he plays with pace, good things will happen for him.”