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Wild’s Granlund can be the star ‘if he applies himself,’ coach says

Minnesota Wild forward Mikael Granlund (64) takes a shot on Buffalo Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark (35) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center on Saturday, Nov. 17. Marilyn Indahl / USA TODAY Sports

CHICAGO — There’s something about Wild winger Mikael Granlund that always seems to leave people wanting more.

As good as Granlund has been been over the past few seasons — and he is on pace for his third consecutive 60-plus-point campaign — there are times when he disappears for long stretches.

Like during Saturday’s home loss to the Buffalo Sabres when Granlund seemed more interested in painting a pretty picture on most plays than attacking at full speed.

It’s not as simple as telling Granlund not to play that way, as creativity is perhaps his biggest asset. He makes plays with the puck that others could never dream of, but sometimes passes the puck too much.

It is clear coach Bruce Boudreau would like him to be more selfish at times — and take on the responsibilities that come with being the best player on the team.

“I think Granny’s a guy that can be as good as he wants to be,” he said. “I think he can be a superstar in this league if he applies himself every night. Unfortunately, it’s not every night right now.”

Whether it’s overpassing or overthinking, Granlund can be his own worst enemy.

“We want him to be a little more selfish,” Boudreau said. “We talked to him about it today. He’s trying to be too cute with the plays. If he skates, he doesn’t have to be cute because the plays come naturally.”

Eriksson Ek back

After serving as the healthy scratch for Saturday’s game against Buffalo, Joel Eriksson Ek was back in the Wild lineup for Sunday’s game at Chicago. He centered the third line, flanked by Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle.

“I hope he did,” Boudreau said when asked if he believes Eriksson Ek got the message. “He’s not a real talkative young man. I just sort of told him what I thought and asked him if he understood, and he said, ‘Yes.’ So I said, ‘OK. We’re good.’ ”

Dumba streaking

Matt Dumba carried a career-high three-game goal streak into Sunday’s game. He ranked second among NHL defensemen with eight goals this season.

“His shot has been a lot more accurate,” Boudreau said. “He’s hitting the net, and he’s got such a good shot when he hits the net a lot of them go in.”