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Look out! Wild winger Jordan Greenway has started to embrace contact

In the most recent game, Greenway was arguably the best player on the ice.

NHL: Boston Bruins at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Jordan Greenway reacts during the third period against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, March 16, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center.
Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Wild winger Jordan Greenway is a gentle giant. Or at least he has been for much of his hockey career.

Even he admitted earlier this season that he sometimes has trouble bringing the type of physicality many expect out of his 6-foot-6, 230-pound frame. He noted how he relies on linemates Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno to pull him into the fight.

That no longer appears to be the case for the man teammates affectionately refer to as The Big Rig. In the past month, the 25-year-old Greenway seems to have flipped a switch of some sort, embracing contact like he never has before.

“He’s really taken a step,” coach Dean Evason said. “His confidence, his maturity, his willingness to compete in all areas of the game, physically, verbally. He’s got a lot of confidence, and he’s a very effective player.”

Some examples of Greenway’s recent increased physicality include starting a brawl against the Detroit Red Wings by mixing it up with goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and making his presence felt against the Boston Bruins by flattening pesky winger Brad Marchand.

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It’s not a coincidence that Greenway has scored a goal in back-to-back games, including the game-winner in a 4-2 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday. In that game, Greenway was arguably the best player on the ice, and his linemates weren’t far behind.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Minnesota Wild
Minnesota Wild left wing Jordan Greenway (18) and Nashville Predators defenseman Alexandre Carrier (45) fight for the puck during the second period Sunday, March 13, 2022, at Xcel Energy Center.
Harrison Barden / USA Today Sports

“That’s the way we need them to play every night,” goalie Cam Talbot said of the Greenway-Eriksson Ek-Foligno line. “They were just running over guys in the offensive zone, and it really set the tone for the game for us.”

When that trio is firing on all cylinders, the Wild are usually playing at a high level. That’s something the three linemates take a lot of pride in.

“That’s exactly what we like to do,” Greenway said. “When we’re playing well, we can play any type of game, and typically, when the physicality comes out that’s when our line, and the entire team, finds a way to bear down.”

Recently, it has been Greenway leading the charge on that front. There’s something about physical games that seem to bring the best out of him.

“It’s pretty hard to stop when he’s like that,” Eriksson Ek said. “Just how long he can reach, how strong he is, and how well he moves for being that big is special.”

All of those things were on display on his game-winner against the Bruins as Greenway muscled his way to the net, carved out some space in front, then hammered home the rebound.

Now the key for Greenway is finding a way to bring that physicality every game.

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“He knows he has to do it again and again and again,” Evason said. “That’s what we talked to him about. It’s great. He had a great game. Now he needs to go do it again. It has to be a consistent thing.”

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