NEWARK, N.J. — A couple of weeks ago, Jordan Greenway claimed he had no qualms about his high ankle sprain as he prepared to return to the Wild lineup. Though he wasn’t 100 percent at that time, Greenway said he felt like he was healthy enough for him to make an impact.
That has proved to be the case. Greenway has played the game with a noticeable sense of physicality as of late, using his massive 6-foot-6, 240-pound frame to carve out space on the ice.
“I wanted to put an emphasis on being more physical,” he said. “Usually, I think about it. It’s just not No. 1 on my priority list. It has been lately, and I think I’ve been creating (scoring opportunities).”
The next step for Greenway is doing it on a consistent basis. The biggest issue throughout his career has been his inability to bring that physical presence game in and game out. He can look so dominant for a few games at a time, then look completely invisible for a few weeks.
He’s well aware of that. Asked if it was hard to be physical every night, Greenway deadpanned, “Umm. I don’t know if I’ve ever done it every night, so I don’t have an answer for that.”
“I guess we’ll find out,” he added. “I think it can be easier than trying to go out there and be expected to score a goal or something like that, right? It’s pretty easy to go hit somebody. I don’t know. I guess we’ll find out.”
While some players like Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek effortlessly play the game with a mean streak, that’s never been in Greenway’s nature. He has to actively think about throwing his body around.
“I’ve never been out-of-this-world physical,” he said. “It’s not ingrained in me by any means. It’s definitely something that I’ve got to get myself worked up to do.”
That might explain why coach Dean Evason has gone back to playing Greenway alongside Eriksson Ek and opposite Foligno. That trio played together for much of last season, and as Greenway noted, it easier for him to be more physical when playing with other physical players.
“Absolutely,” Greenway said. “It’s easier for sure.”
Goligoski chips in
More than a month into his tenure with the hometown Wild, veteran Alex Goligoski leads the blue line in points. He has 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists) in 15 games while spending most of his time alongside captain Jared Spurgeon.
What’s been working so well?
“Some of it is assists are a little bit random,” Goligoski said with a laugh. “It’s just a matter of someone else putting the puck in the net. I’m just trying to play in the offensive zone and get the puck to places where guys have time to make plays and get pucks to the net.”
The production hasn’t surprised Evason. This is what the Wild expected when they signed Goligoski this offseason.
“We expected him to be an offensive guy on the back end,” Evason said. “We all know that he has both ends of the rink taken care of and can play both areas. But he’s been a real nice addition to us in the locker room as much as he’s been on the ice.”
Benn stays put
Despite rushing top prospect Calen Addison to Florida over the weekend, the Wild opted to keep veteran Jordie Benn in the lineup for Wednesday’s game. He played solidly in Sunday’s shootout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, so the coaching staff felt he deserved another chance.
“We really liked how Jordie Benn played the game the other night,” Evason said. “Obviously, he had a really nice assist. But he played the game with a sense of urgency that we’ve asked him to play with, and with that bite that we know he can play with. He was an asset for our hockey club.”