(St. Paul, MN) — March Madness is certainly not limited to the
college basketball court, when one considers the NHL’s made
scramble of teams to sign their college draftees and finalize
playoff spots. That’s the case in both scenarios for the Minnesota
Wild, who host the Dallas Stars on Thursday having just gotten one
of their college prizes in uniform, and as they hover near the
clinching point in the Western Conference playoff race.
The Wild return home after a shootout loss in Nashville on Tuesday
night — a game which all involved agreed had a real playoff feel.
With the Predators already in the postseason and the Wild close to
clinching a sixth consecutive trip, a May meeting between those
teams is not a far-fetched idea. For Minnesota, Tuesday also marked
the NHL debut of prized collegian and Olympic forward Jordan
Greenway, who signed with the Wild less than 24 hours after his
Boston University career ended with a Terriers’ loss to Michigan on
Sunday in the NCAA East Regional final.
Greenway won’t be skating in the NCAA Frozen Four, which will be
played at Xcel Energy Center in a week. Instead, he’ll skate as
part of the home team on the Wild’s home ice for the first time on
“You see that he’s going to be a good player,” Wild coach Bruce
Boudreau said after Greenway’s debut in Nashville. “Positionally he
was fine and he’s got great reach. This is a tough game for number
one for a young man’s career, but I thought he handled it well.”
Although the rookie is less of a story than the cagey veteran in
Minnesota these days, after Eric Staal became just the second
player in franchise history to record a 40-goal season on Tuesday.
“It’s nice. It feels good,” said Staal, who joins only Gordie Howe
in NHL history to have 40-goal seasons nine years apart. “When
you’re at 39 you always want to get it out of the way, especially
when you’ve got people texting you, calling you, my kids and people
are watching, so it is nice and it was nice to get it in that
For Dallas, the eight-game streak without a win (0-6-2) is finally
over after they beat the Flyers in overtime on Tuesday.
Unfortunately, their hopes of making the playoffs are all but over
as well. Statistically, the Stars need to go unbeaten in their
final five games, and get plenty of help, to have a chance of
sneaking in, meaning that every game is like an elimination game
“We live to fight another day. We’ve got to go win a road game and
that’s the players’ attitude,” Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said after
the home win over Philadelphia. “Everybody is kind of focused on
The teams have split their first two meetings of the season, with
the Wild winning at home in late December, and the Stars handing
Minnesota one of its worst losses of the season, 6-1, in Dallas in
early February. The will follow up Thursday’s game in Minnesota
with a Saturday night meeting in Texas.