The Minnesota Wild defeated Chicago on Thursday, but the biggest surprise came with the promotion of Jordan Greenway. Greenway started the game on the third line, but was on the first line in the second period.
With Eriksson Ek promoted, Greenway started the game centering the new pairing of Coyle and Nino Niederreiter. On paper, a big line with a ton of power, and it did look like this line was producing slightly better with Niederreiter than it had with Eriksson Ek.
25 minutes into the game Bruce Boudreau was clearly not impressed with Eriksson Ek on the top line, however, and he decided to shuffle his lines facing a 2-0 deficit to rival Chicago. Eriksson Ek was returned to center on the 3rd line, and Greenway was promoted to the right side of Jason Zucker and Eric Staal.
More from Analysis
- Here we go. Minnesota Wild head into pivotal Game 5 matchup
- Yeah, Game 2 was ugly. How will the Minnesota Wild respond at home?
- Fleury injury just the latest hurdle for the struggling Minnesota Wild so far
- Minnesota Wild to get a test with challenging homestand
- Minnesota Wild: Filip Gustavsson gets his time to shine in net
Zucker and Staal had been flying through the opening 20, but not able to produce anything with Eriksson Ek on their wing. The promotion of Jordan Greenway payed near instant benefits. On only their third shift together, Eric Staal got the Minnesota Wild on the board.
The goal was a fantastic pass by Zucker and tap in from Staal, but it was actually set up by a strong play on the end boards by Greenway. Jordan won a race to a loose puck, won the board battle against Artem Anisimov, and got the puck back to the point to retain possession instead of a Chicago breakout.
The second goal was setup again by a strong move by Greenway, this time behind the net. Greenway used his body to shield the puck from Henri Jokiharju, and made a strong pass out front to Staal who found Zucker for the tying goal.
It appears as though Greenway thrives when he is put into positions where he is complemented by skilled offensive players. The trio of he with Coyle and Eriksson Ek looked good on paper, but failed to produce anything of note while playing 3rd line matchups and minutes.
It’s time to trust the rookie to be ready for the added responsibility. Nothing about Greenway’s game on Thursday looked as timid or as weak as he looked in Denver nor in the home opener against Vegas.
If a promotion to top minutes can boost his confidence and turn him into the offensive weapon that the Minnesota Wild think he can be, then don’t stop now. Greenway provides a different dynamic for the top line than Eriksson Ek, Granlund, or Niederreiter. Give him an extended stay in his new spot, and some additional practice time to be familiar with his new linemates, and the sky may be the limit.