Dane Mizutani / St. Paul Pioneer Press
ST. PAUL—There's something unexplainable about being at an NHL rink that can make even the toughest times a little bit easier. Whether it's the bright lights, or the cheering fans, or simply getting back into a daily routine, it has a way of defeating tragedy, even if it's only for a few moments. Minnesota Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau experienced that unspoken phenomenon after the unexpected death of his younger brother, Bryan, about six months ago. "You need the games," the 63-year-old said. "I just wanted to play and work so I didn't have to sit and think."
DENVER—Although the Wild didn't sugarcoat anything in the aftermath of an embarrassing loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night, March 2, at the Pepsi Center, they made it clear that it's important not to let too much negativity creep with only a month left in the regular season. "There's going to be 17 more games that we have to get up for," Matt Dumba said Friday night. "This was a brutal game. ... It's a busy month, though, so we can't dwell on this."
DENVER—Luke Kunin, perhaps the top prospect in the entire Wild organization, was called up from the minors this week. He watched two games from the press box and was slated to return to the lineup on Friday night against the rival Colorado Avalanche. "I just hope he plays like he played when he was last up here," coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He's got speed and plays a fairly physical game and is pretty responsible. If he does all of those things, we'll be very happy."
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Eric Staal was named the NHL's First Star of the Month for February on Thursday, March 1. In other news, the sky is blue, water is wet, and taxes are due in six weeks. In fact, Staal earning the accolade might have been the least surprising news in the entire world on Thursday, considering he scored 13 goals in 13 games over 28 days, leading the Wild to a 9-2-2 record in February that has vaulted them into third place in the Central Division.
ST. PAUL — Luke Kunin could be the shot in the arm the Wild need down the stretch. At least that's what members of the front office are hoping after recalling the 20-year-old forward from the minors on Tuesday, Feb. 27. "Obviously, he's a player we think very highly of," general manager Chuck Fletcher said this week. A first-round pick out of the University of Wisconsin in the 2016 NHL Draft, Kunin watched from the press box on Tuesday night at the Xcel Energy Center as the Wild dismantled the rival St. Louis Blues.
ST. PAUL — Chris Stewart was claimed by the Calgary Flames on Monday, Feb. 26, one day after the Wild placed the veteran winger on waivers. "That's the tough thing about our business, losing a good friend like Stew," said defenseman Matt Dumba, one of Stewart's closest friends on the team. "It's hard. He's going to my hometown, so I'll make sure I take care of him.
In search of some salary cap space, the Wild traded Mike Reilly to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday for a fifth-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, marking the end of the 24-year-old blue liner’s career with the hometown team. Reilly had 10 points (2 goals, 8 assists) in 38 games with the Wild this season. He carried a $725,000 cap hit, which the Wild will be relieved of in the deal.
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea—Afton native Jessie Diggins still has the weathered scrap of cardboard that her idol, Kikkan Randall, signed for her nearly a decade ago. Back then, Diggins was a wide-eyed teenager with goals of someday competing in the Olympics, while Randall was a budding star on the U.S. women's cross country ski team blazing a trail for generations to follow. Neither expected during that chance meeting at an event in Anchorage, Alaska, what awaited them.
NEWARK, N.J. — Wild defenseman Mike Reilly has been trying his best to keep his mouth shut and be a good teammate the past couple of months. Not the easiest thing considering he's been a consistent healthy scratch on the blue line, playing in only six games in the calendar year prior to earning a start in the Thursday, Feb. 22, game against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark. "Yeah, it's been tough," Reilly said. "I'm just trying to stay ready and stay positive and get some extra work on the ice and keep pushing my game."
NEWARK, N.J. — Wild speedster Jason Zucker had a nearly 30-minute drive home from the rink to think about his worst game of the season — his words, not ours. Yet as soon as he walked in the front door of his Edina home, his frustration began melting away. Suddenly, the 4-3 overtime loss to the last-place Arizona Coyotes didn't matter as much, nor did the fact that he was a very obvious minus-3 in the matchup. In that moment, the only thing that Zucker was thinking about was his 3-month-old son, Hendrix.