NHL

Rested Wild’s hope boosters give an infusion of energy and noise

Rested Wild’s hope boosters give an infusion of energy and noise

St. PAUL, Minn. – In addition to a complete lack of energy, an inability to get into the foul zone offensively and a complete inability to cleanly get out of their own end, if that wasn’t enough, which also affected the Wild last time we saw the four of them. nights back during an uninspiring and torturous effort to watch Seattle it was the poor work that all the players did along the wall.

The number of board battles was incredible wild lost with three of the errors leading directly to goals in a shutout loss to the Kraken.

So it was no surprise Monday before the Wild boarded a plane to Los Angeles to begin a three-game road trip that coach Dean Evason put the Wild through backboard battle after backboard battle during a spirited practice at TRIA Rink.

It’s no secret that the Wild have lost four of their biggest and toughest forwards to injuries Marcus Foligno, Ryan Hartman, Jordan Greenway i Brandon Duhaime. But Evason says that’s no excuse for others, including the Wild’s smaller players, not winning their puck-hunting battles.

So the coaches designed a battle practice for Monday that included the need to finish checks, win puck races, win puck battles and also get out of the zone without problems. Few teams are passive anymore, so a big focal point on Monday was the winger who won board battles in the rhyming rounds by cutting off a pinch-hitting defenseman and quickly transitioning to a center who drops in and out for quick counter-attacks.

“We told the group it’s nice to have four days off and rest,” Evason said. “But (it gives the coaches a chance) to analyze and try to figure out what we need to do better, and that’s definitely an area: getting out of our zone. Every team has been super aggressive every night. … So we’ve to find ways to get out of our defensive zone more”.

The good news is that reinforcements are on the way.

Greenway, the Wild’s 6-foot-6 left wing, missed the first three games of the season after undergoing offseason surgery on his left shoulder. In his sixth shift in his season debut against Vancouver on October 20, Greenway ended his control over the Canucks defense Oliver Ekman-Larsson and left the game permanently with an injury to his left shoulder.

“Different injury, same shoulder,” Greenway said Monday after being sidelined 2:58 into his much-anticipated first game.

But Greenway is expected to return Tuesday night against the kings online with Joel Eriksson I i Matt Boldy. The Wild need him to make his presence felt, and he knows it.

“It’s been talked about, but some of the guys we’ve had out, I think we’ve been missing a little bit of size, maybe a little bit of physicality,” Greenway said. “I think there’s definitely some of that that I can bring. Some energy, whatever the case may be, but I think it’s definitely a role that I can fill.”

Greenway alluded, however, that there will be a mental hurdle to overcome after getting hurt in his first stint after a long, long offseason. The Wild need him to be physical to be effective, so he can’t worry about re-injuring his shoulder.

“It’s kind of getting your mind back to being comfortable with it, but you can’t play scared or you can’t play to not get injured,” Greenway said. “That’s not what I’m going to do. I’m just going to go out there and play my game and then my body will take care of itself.”

The Wild also recalled the shooter Adam Beckman and accident Joseph Cramarossa Sunday to wait until Foligno returns. They’re targeting Friday’s game in Seattle to wrap up the road trip so Foligno, who has missed the last three games with an upper-body injury, can get two, maybe three more skates Tuesday , Wednesday and Thursday. The hope is that once Foligno returns, he will reunite the Greenway-Eriksson Ek-Foligno line so the team can rediscover the identity that made them one of the best North-South teams in the NHL last season

They played just 2:58 together this season until Greenway got hurt against the Canucks.

“Everybody makes a lot of that line. Sure. It’s a great line. They’re all big men who play hard,” Evason said. “But … the identity of the Minnesota Wild is (not) a line. The identity of the Minnesota Wild, we play like that throughout our entire lineup, and we haven’t. Regardless of who we play, we have to play our identity. Ours is not about being cute and skillful. Ours is about being tough and then showing our skill. That’s who we are. When we play like that, we win or have a chance to win.”

This is one of the reasons why Cramarossa will draw against the Kings.

The 30-year career minor leaguer with 64 NHL games under his belt has appeared in 45 minor league games since 2013 and one for the Wild in Anaheim vs. Max Jones. But it’s the heaviness the Wild bring that they’ll be looking for Tuesday night if they play a skillful line. Tyson Jost i Sam Steele.

Evason said he will get the starting chance in the lineup over Beckman because of the strength the Wild have lost to their injured forwards.

“Obviously I’ve played like that for a long time using my speed and putting it on the edge, being physical and making plays when I can,” Cramarossa said. “You have to be an all-around player in this league. So that’s what I’m going to try to bring. It’s a role I’m used to playing, so it’s nothing new for me and I’m ready for (Tuesday).”

Since the plan is for Foligno to return to Anaheim on Friday and not Wednesday, it wouldn’t be surprising if Beckman sympathized with the ducks. Evason certainly spoke Monday as if we’ll see Beckman on the road trip and that he wasn’t just called up as insurance.

Beckman was a revelation in the 2021-22 pre-season with four goals. But he played in just three NHL games, registering one assist almost exactly a year ago in Pittsburgh’s goal to force Hartman’s extension.

But he never had another game in his first full year as a pro. The former WHL MVP and leading scorer had 11 goals and 34 points in 68 AHL games last season after three goals and two assists in nine games when he got games during the pandemic in Iowa as a teenager in 2020-21.

But after such a training camp this September, Beckman has three goals and three assists in eight games at Iowa.

“Becks is having a great start to the season down there. He deserves to be here,” Evason said. “We want to play him on this road trip and see what that translates to. From all indications from the folks down there, … he’s played a tougher, more determined game. We clearly know his skill set, … he shoots the puck a lot, he scores, but he’s playing a complete game. He’s a year older physically, mentally. So I’m looking forward to getting him some ice and seeing what he can do.”

Beckman admits that last year’s training camp was “pretty different” for him than this year’s.

“A lot of things went right for me,” Beckman said. “Obviously I got lucky in some situations. But I think I’ve continued to work on myself. I think I’ve made progress and I think I’ve improved a lot of different parts of my game that maybe don’t show up on the stat sheet. But just I’ve tried to get over it and I just need to get better every day.

“I feel a lot different (than last season). I feel a lot more confident. I think just having a full year of professional hockey under my belt has helped me a lot being here this year, feeling more comfortable on the ice and safer. Experience is the best teacher.”

While it doesn’t look like he’ll play in LA, expect to play in Anaheim against a Ducks team that allows more than 40 shots per game.

“If I get a chance to play, you want to make an impact,” he said. “I think for me it’s just trying to play my game if I get the chance. I think that’s important, and I think that’s what everybody wants, is just playing your game and … being the player that you are.”

(Photo by Adam Beckman: Jerome Miron/USA Today)





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