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Greenway provides Wild with a hopeful preview of things to come

Beast-mode assist is high point for Wild in exhibition loss to Jets on Wednesday

by Dan Myers @mnwildscribe /

WINNIPEG -- Wild forward Jordan Greenway is entering his second full season in the NHL and on Wednesday night, showed exactly why the franchise is so excited about him.

In the middle of a third period of a relatively mundane exhibition game against the Winnipeg Jets, Greenway reminded everyone that the 6-foot-5, 230-pound forward is a prime candidate for a breakout season.

With Minnesota trailing 2-0, the puck exited the Wild's offensive zone and was retrieved near center ice by defenseman Brad Hunt.

Greenway's linemates, Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin bolted for the bench, ready for a line change following a good shift in the offensive zone.

Greenway was caught in no-man's land. 

"The puck didn't go very deep into the neutral zone," Greenway said. "So I thought we'd just try and get it up quickly."

Ready for a change himself, but sensing a quick transition that could lead to a scoring chance, Greenway circled at the blue line and received a pass from Hunt near the right-wing boards. With his left arm, the hulking forward held not one, but two Jets at bay. With his right, he lugged the puck to the right circle then turned towards the net, protecting it like a hawk.

Video: MIN@WPG: Sturm brings the Wild within one in the 3rd

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a white jersey crashing the front of the goal mouth fresh off the bench.

Not knowing who was coming, Greenway put the puck on the tape of teammate Nico Sturm's stick. His initial shot was stopped, but with Greenway attracting all kinds of attention, Sturm buried the rebound, cutting Winnipeg's lead in half.

Greenway made it sound simple, but the play was anything but. It's the kind of play that is certain to make an impression on new Wild GM Bill Guerin, a power forward in his own right once upon a time.

"I tried to protect it as long as I could," Greenway said. "I saw someone in the slot area and just tried to get it to a stick."

In the process, Greenway gave Wild fans a peek at just the kind of player he can be.

"He's a monster. That power move, he just shrugs them off like it's nothing," Sturm said. "A power play there by him. He opens up space for other players and makes the game easier for others. He's got two guys on him there for a zone entry. All I had to do was go on after the line change and go hard to the net.

"That's his game, uses his big body, create time and space. Just a perfect play by him."

It's the exact kind of play the Wild hopes to see more of from Greenway for years to come. The 22-year-old forward has showed flashes of it in his first year-plus in the NHL, but hasn't been able to put it together consistently.

That's not surprising for someone at a young age still learning the pro game. But Greenway isn't a rookie anymore, and it's time now for him to learn to use his size and strength advantage he has on almost every player in the League.

Just like he did Wednesday in Winnipeg.

"That's what he has to do," said Wild coach Bruce Boudreau. "When you're 6-5, 230, you have to use your assets in anything, and those are his assets, so we have to use them." 

Greenway is no longer paying lip service to the "use your body more," mantra, something coaches and teammates have been telling him to do his entire career. In that context, it's easy to see why that advice could go in one ear and out the other.

If that advice has finally stuck, the Wild and its fans could see a dominant power forward come into his own this season.

"That's gotta be my game, my size is my biggest asset," Greenway said. "I think I'm gonna have my most success using it."


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