ST. PAUL -- One of the most underrated players in a standout defensive group, Jared Spurgeon is quietly on his way to a career season.
He's just two points shy of tying a career-high 38, which came in 76 games last season. He's only played in 58 yet this year.
He's also part of a high-scoring group of blueliners, well on pace to surpass their franchise-record 169 points from last season as well. Sitting second in the League, the Wild defense has already posted 167 points -- with 15 games remaining in the regular season.
What's the secret to their success?
"The forwards are scoring," Spurgeon said with a smile. "We're shooting pucks and the power play always helps when that's clicking, so just putting pucks on net and we have a lot of big bodies that are getting to the front for rebounds."
Playing a majority of the season with Ryan Suter, Spurgeon isn't the better-known name on Minnesota's top pairing. To Bruce Boudreau, who likes "absolutely everything" he's seen from Spurgeon this season, it's almost unthinkable how Spurgeon flies under the radar.
"He's another one of those national treasures that nobody hears about, but you wonder why your team does good and he's one of the big reasons why," Boudreau said.
But, credit where credit is due.
A big part of the team's offensive success in the past two seasons is due to the encouragement of the coaching staff, and the trust instilled in Spurgeon, Suter and others on the back end.
"We're always encouraged to get to the play and make the reads when we can," said Wild defenseman Matt Dumba. "We've got a really solid D core and we've been playing together now for a while, so I think it's a combination of all that, and a little puck luck as well."
Still, puck luck can only take you so far. Even the luckiest deflections won't happen unless a player is in the correct position or prepared for the play. Spurgeon has reliably set up wherever he needs to be.
Video: DET@MIN: Spurgeon helps Dubnyk with big block
Of all NHL defensemen who have played 10 or more games this year, Spurgeon sits nineteenth with an average of 0.62 points per game.
He's also 22nd in the League with 36 points -- right behind Dumba's 37. Suter ranks eighth, well on the way to a career season of his own with 47 points.
"Not a lot of it's fancy; we're just shooting," Spurgeon said. "I think you see now that if you don't have D joining the rush it's tough to get a lot of stuff.
"For all of us back there, we have the freedom to make choices if we see something there."
After missing Tuesday night's game against the Carolina Hurricanes with a right bicep strain, Nick Seeler may not make the upcoming trip to Western Canada with the team.
Per Boudreau, Seeler is also battling the flu.
"I think he had a temperature of 103 yesterday, so it's gonna be day-to-day with him as far as whether he makes the trip," Boudreau said.