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Greenway using his frame to steal momentum for Wild

Second-year forward gaining confidence, understanding in how to best use his 6-foot-6 size to his advantage

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As much as it was Alex Stalock's game-saving stop against the Ducks with Anaheim leading 2-0, coach Bruce Boudreau credits a Jordan Greenway shift a minute or two later with turning momentum in an eventual 4-2 Wild victory.

Greenway didn't score a goal on that shift, or dish out a fancy assist. He simply used his 6-foot-6, 225-pound frame to hand out some physical punishment.

First, he hammered Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler with a check while battling for a puck. Seconds later, another Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm did everything he could to avoid that contact in an almost identical situation.

The hard play again by Greenway allowed him to win a puck battle and keep the Wild in the offensive zone.

Minnesota didn't score on the chance, but the play set the tone.

From that point on, the Wild played a downhill game, scored a goal to make it 2-1 headed to the third, then scored three times in the final stanza to get the win. 

After the game, it was Stalock's save, but it was also Greenway's stand, that was on his coach's mind.

"[He] was pretty defiant on that shift," Boudreau said. "We held them in for that shift. I thought from that point on, the game turned."

Two days later, Greenway still remembered the shift as clear as though he had just come back to the bench.

"It was a good shift," Greenway said. 

It was a shift, Greenway said, was bourn out of frustration; that his line hadn't controlled the puck much in the first period, that the Wild had come out sloppy in the opening minutes of the second period and that the first game of a four-game, 10-day road trip seemed to be slipping away.

Somehow, someway, Greenway knew he had to try and take matters into his own hands.

"Everyone thought, something just had to change," Greenway said. "I felt like I needed to pick up my game and one way to do that ... they say is go get a hit, go do something. So I went out and used my body as much as I could.

"Whether it was because of that shift or not, we started to get into a little bit of a flow and started to play well after that."

The hope is that Greenway is able to make impacts like that more often.

"I think that's textbook Jordan Greenway," said Wild forward Ryan Hartman. "He's using his body to get position on the puck, and then when he has the puck, you're not getting it back. He's able to keep it and use his big frame to keep guys off. That can turn the momentum when things aren't going right."

While the offensive ability is certainly there, the goals have been slow to come for Greenway. He has none so far, but he has five assists and a plus-3 in 14 games, and proved on Tuesday that he can directly impact games by being more willing to use his unique size to his advantage.

"It's still in an inconsistent growing stage but when he does do it, he's a really good player," Boudreau said. "It's just a matter of time before goals start going in for him when he's playing like that. He'd like to be able to bottle it up and do it every game."

Greenway has been inconsistent in doing just that, but there's good reason for it.

He's never had to use it in his life. Because he's always been the biggest guy on the ice, opponents have shied away from even trying to engage him physically.

"I was always bigger, so guys didn't even try to initiate it," Greenway said. "I didn't really have to use my body as much. It was much easier to get away with not using it."

That's not the case in the NHL.

Now 101 games into his career in the League, the former Boston University standout seems to be getting more and more used to the fact that teams will battle him at every turn, 6-foot-6 size be damned. 

"[In college], there's already a lot of space for you. The defense, their gap is bigger in college than they are here," Greenway said. "You can use the large space they give you, you don't have to create it for yourself."

That's different at the NHL level than it is in college, Greenway said, referencing players like Sharks defenseman Brent Burns.

"I'm going to have to find ways to create space for myself, he's not just going to back up," Greenway said.  

While the game slows down for players the more games they play in the NHL, understanding one's game also comes with experience in the League. 

Greenway certainly seems to be learning something about himself. That can only be good for the Wild.

As far as the rest of the League? Look out.

"Here, with the talent that so many people have, in order for me to have a big impact on the game, I've got to do it, and I have to incorporate it into my game much more than I have," Greenway said.

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