SAN JOSE, Calif. — While growing up, Jordan Greenway was always the biggest kid on the ice. So much so that nobody ever messed with him.
“I didn’t really have to initiate contact because guys wouldn’t even try me,” he said. “It was much easier to get away with not using my body.”
Perhaps that’s the biggest reason the 22-year-old winger sometimes shies away from the physical part of his game despite his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame.
“That’s something I have to work on,” Greenway said. “As I’ve seen in the past, when I do use my body and play very physical and initiate contact, I have way more of an impact.”
Like earlier this week when Greenway used his body to spark the Minnesota Wild to a comeback win over the Ducks in Anaheim.
“He was the guy that started it for us,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “He was mad on the bench, and the next shift was in and he hit a couple of guys deep in their corner.”
Asked about the sequence a couple of days later, Greenway explained that he was frustrated at that moment and simply took it out on the first person he saw.
“We started to get into a little bit of a flow and started to play well after that,” Greenway said. “I’ve got to find ways to do that more, not just to change momentum when things are bad. Even when things are going well, I’ve got to find a way to bring that spark.”
In a perfect world, that physical play will result in some offense, as well. Greenway entered Thursday’s game against the San Jose Sharks still searching for his first goal of the season.
“I think I’ve been playing well whether the goals are coming or not,” he said. “If I keep doing the right things, I’m confident they’ll come. That’s all I’m really focusing on.”
That, and continuing to embrace the physical part of his game
“I just have to incorporate it into my game much more than I’ve had to in the past,” Greenway said. “I did it when we needed it most the other night, and going forward I’ve got to find a way to do that from the drop of the puck.”
Stalock starts again
Looking to get on a hot streak, the Wild went with the hot hand for Thursday’s game, starting Alex Stalock over the struggling Devan Dubnyk for the second straight game.
“He’s earned this spot,” Boudreau said. “We need the wins, so we’re going to go with what we think gives us the best chance to win.”
It’s hard to argue with that logic right now; Stalock entered Thursday’s game with a 3-3-0 record, a 2.42 goals-against average, and a .917 save percentage. In comparison, Dubnyk has struggled to a 2-6-1 record, a 3.68 goals-against average, and a .883 save percentage.
“Obviously, when I’m playing in consecutive games it’s a little bit easier to get into a rhythm and feel a little more comfortable,” Stalock said. “That’s been an advantage for me.”
After a slow start, Mats Zuccarello has caught fire. He entered Thursday’s matchup riding a three-game goal streak and has started to develop some chemistry alongside Eric Staal and opposite Jason Zucker.
“I feel more poised and more comfortable right now,” said Zuccarello, who signed a five-year, $30 million contract this offseason. “It took some time to get into a new group. I wanted to take some time to find my place on the team and get to know my teammates and have them get to know me.
“Hopefully, it’s going to keep getting better and better.”