As interim Head Coach John Torchetti stood behind the visiting team's bench at Rogers Arena during his first game in charge of the Minnesota Wild, he took a whiff of smelling salts. It's something Torchetti does before every game to help get him fired up.
Come next week, Torchetti will experience another first: being the head coach of a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the Wild practicing Thursday for the first time since clinching a playoff berth on Tuesday, Torchetti needed no stimulants when expressing his excitement for that feat.
"I'm fired up for when they drop that puck the first night," Torchetti said. "I'm looking forward to seeing how our team deals with every situation that comes about during the playoffs."
Just getting there, as Torchetti and many of his players have said, is an accomplishment in and of itself. The Wild had to scratch and claw its way back into the top eight after Torchetti was promoted to his current role Feb. 13, when Minnesota found itself in 11th place, and six points behind the Colorado Avalanche.
"I don't know how many weeks I've been here, but if I told everyone we were going to make the playoffs, everybody would be pretty excited about that moving forward," Torchetti said after the Wild locked up its postseason spot on Tuesday.
But Torchetti, whose high-energy style was something his players picked up on from the drop of the puck during that opening game against the Vancouver Canucks, hasn't hidden that he's relishing the chance to coach for a shot at the Stanley Cup.
He's not alone in that sentiment, either. Forward Zac Dalpe, who was recalled from Iowa of the American Hockey League on Monday, made his Minnesota Wild debut Tuesday.
Dalpe, a 26-year-old in his seventh professional season, has never been a part of any organization that has reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Before the game (Tuesday), I probably shouldn't have said that because I haven't been on a team in my career that's made the playoffs, so it's nice to be in," Dalpe said. "You hit the reset button, and go from there."
Like Torchetti, Dalpe's season began in Iowa. He's endured two major injuries — a torn labrum in his hip that required surgery, and a knee injury — that limited him to eight AHL games this season
Dalpe was a late arrival to Minnesota's training camp after the death of his mother. When he got there, he impressed Wild brass, but has had to wait months and remain patient through rehab to get to this point.
"I talked my dad, and he said it's good to get some good news as a family — not that anything hasn't come along that's been good, but it's nice," he said. "As a kid, you grow up watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and now, whatever role you play, if you're a Black Ace, or you're in the lineup, you get to be there, so it's cool."