Wild rookie Jordan Greenway isn’t tracking his progress during his first full NHL season by monitoring his goal production, points total or average ice time — all of which have been trending up lately.
Instead, the 21-year-old is focusing on how authoritative he feels on the ice to make sure he’s growing.
And like those numerical barometers, Greenway seems to be improving in that area, too.
“It’s more about me personally just knowing that I’m just building every day and my game’s getting better,” he said. “I feel more comfortable, and there’ll be days I take two steps backwards so it’s not all going to be smooth sailing. But as long as I know that I’m getting more confident, I’m more of a force on the ice than I was the previous game — whatever the case is — that’s more what I look at and not as much as the stats.”
Greenway opened the scoring in the Wild’s 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday, the fourth time this season he’s tallied the first goal of the game — tops among NHL rookies and the Wild.
The goal was also Greenway’s second in four games, and although he isn’t holding these contributions up as proof he’s evolving, he interprets them as a “bonus” for the work he’s doing to stay on track.
“It just shows that I’m doing the right things,” he said. “Usually you get rewarded. Sometimes I’m not going to. You just gotta trust the process and know that as long as I keep doing the right things, it’ll work out.”
Offensive output also isn’t what the Wild’s using to measure Greenway’s development this season; coach Bruce Boudreau is keeping an eye on Greenway’s consistency, especially considering the youngster has already played more this season with the Wild than he did in any of his three campaigns at Boston University.
“That’s where you’re going to see him grow in years to come,” Boudreau said. “He’s going to play every game now. Every now and again he’s not going to have as good a game as he would like. [But] that’s going to get better.”
Winger Marcus Foligno and center Eric Fehr have been the Wild’s go-to forwards on the penalty kill this season, and even though Fehr is out with injury, Foligno is still among the first options called upon — a sign of how well he’s adopted the responsibility.
“It’s been nice,” Foligno said. “It’s something when you get that opportunity, you want to take full advantage of it, and I think I’ve been doing that.”
Communication was key to the chemistry Foligno and Fehr established, and that’s also what’s helping Foligno adapt to a new partner in captain Mikko Koivu.
“We talk off the draw, things like that,” Foligno said. “That’s where I kind of developed some things from Eric, just be more vocal, and Mikko likes that, too. But at the same time, he’s really good positionally and I read off him pretty well.”
Surge from Spurgeon
After a two-point effort Thursday, defenseman Jared Spurgeon is tied for first among NHL defensemen in goals (three) and third in points (seven) since Jan. 3.
“He’s about as all-around as you can get,” goalie Devan Dubnyk said. “It’s nice to see him chip in offensively. Probably enjoyable for him. In our zone, he’s just solid. He blocks a ton of shots, moves the puck up to the forwards and out of our end extremely well. I keep saying it, but he’s gotta be one of the most underrated players in the league.”
The Wild classified Fehr’s ailment as a lower-body injury.
Fehr has been sidelined since Monday, when he fell to the ice after smacking his head on the top of the boards in front of the Wild’s bench following a shoulder check from Montreal’s Kenny Agostino.