ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild center Joel Eriksson Ek showed no hesitation a week and a half ago when stepping in front of a bevy of shots from Montreal Canadiens blue liner Shea Weber.
He simply braced for contact and stood in as a 100 mph bullet came screaming right at him. Then he did it again. And once more for good measure.
All in a span of about 15 seconds.
“Everyone was going nuts on the bench,” teammate Matt Dumba said. “Just to see a guy committing himself to the team like that that’s huge. We play for each other, and something like that really proves it.”
As much as that trio of blocked shots riled up the Wild bench, Eriksson Ek left the game shortly after and did not return. He has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury, though he was slated to return to the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
“It’s never fun to be injured,” Eriksson Ek said. “It feels better now.”
Asked specifically about the Herculean effort that led to his lower-body injury, Eriksson Ek downplayed the situation.
“You’re just so into the game that it doesn’t matter,” Eriksson Ek said. “You just want to win so badly and don’t really think about it. You just want to help the team win. You aren’t thinking about anything else. That’s part of the game. I just play as hard as I can.”
That Eriksson Ek refused to take credit didn’t surprise goaltender Alex Stalock.
“That says a lot about him,” Stalock said. “He’d rather not talk about it. That’s how he’s wired. That clip shows up in video, and he’s the type of guy that kind of gets embarrassed when he’s got a good clip on there. It says a lot about him as a person. Those are the type of guys we want to have in our locker room.”
Although the Wild were to get Eriksson Ek back Saturday night, Victor Rask and Kevin Fiala are also nursing lower-body injuries sustained from blocking shots.
Not that coach Bruce Boudreau would ever tell his players to shy away from doing it.
“We have to do it, and unfortunately it’s got our guys hurt a little bit,” Boudreau said. “That just goes to show character. I don’t think there’s a coach in the world that doesn’t love it when they see guys selling out for the team. That’s what it’s all about.”
“Those things are going to happen,” Eriksson Ek said. “It’s just mental. How much do I want to sacrifice to win games?”
He’s already answered that hypothetical.
Dubnyk getting close
Devan Dubnyk skated with his teammates before Saturday’s game as he works his way back to 100 percent. The Wild goaltender was injured earlier this week after getting his legs taken out from him in the crease.
“He’s doing as fine as he could be,” Boudreau said. “He’s not ready to play yet. He’s practicing and he’ll be ready to play next week.”
In place of Dubnyk, minor league goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen served as the backup.
Greenway feeling better
Jordan Greenway is still dealing with what the team is calling an upper-body injury, though anybody that watched him get flattened by Edmonton winger Josh Archibald earlier this week knows what that really means.
That said, it sounds like Greenway is getting close to returning to the lineup.
“I think he’s fine,” Boudreau said. “He will be ready to play next week.”