Wild

Jordan Greenway Is Playing Playoff-Style Hockey

Photo Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

Something finally clicked with Jordan Greenway. When the Minnesota Wild signed him to a 3-year, $9 million contract extension, there were questions about whether or not he warranted the raise. The timing of the new deal seemed off in the moment, especially since the Wild could potentially have sold high on the former second-round pick in the offseason. His defense has been good, but he wasn’t doing enough in the offensive zone that led to scoring for him and his linemates. To put it bluntly, Greenway needed to add offense to his game for that contract to be worth it.

Courtesy of Evolving-Hockey.com

The recent franchise-record nine-game homestand was a coming-out party of sorts for the hulking man in green. He scored four goals and an assist in those nine games. While those numbers don’t exactly scream “BREAKOUT!” the way he did it certainly does.

Greenway hurled 34 shots on goal during the homestand. To put it into perspective, he fired just 61 shots across the 44 games before that. That’s a serious uptick in shot production, by roughly 2.25 shots more per game. No player on the Wild shot the puck on net more times than Greenway did during those nine games. He beat out even Kirill Kaprizov, one of Minnesota’s most prolific shooters, by two shots.

Stats Courtesy of Natural Stat Trick

However, shot volume alone doesn’t explain everything exciting about Greenway’s recent streak. It’s hard not to look at Greenway’s 6-foot 6’0″, 237 lbs. frame and not think about him being a power forward. Like Shaquille O’Neal used to dominate the paint on the basketball court because of his size and toughness, Greenway is now doing that on the rink by posting up in front of the goal crease. He’s imposing his will and creating shots with his strength.

That is what fans were clamoring for since Greenway turned pro after two seasons at Boston University. He’d occasionally shown flashes of that kind of play. However, during this nine-game stretch (not even mentioning a strong weekend on the road), Greenway showed it consistently. He created 34 scoring chances by himself, 19 of which were high-danger. Greenway is finally using his body to his advantage and getting rewarded for it. It was like a proof of concept. Everyone knew he had the tools to be successful by doing exactly that. He finally understands how to be a disruptive force on the forecheck while creating dangerous scoring chances at the same time.

It’s a welcome change for the line that’s become a security blanket for Dean Evason. Even when Greenway signed his extension, it looked like he was more or less a hitchhiker on the line. Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno carried the bulk of the play so much, and Greenway wasn’t reaping any benefits or their play. 

Not only is he reaping right now, but now he’s sowing. Greenway probably won’t ever boast an elite shot like Kevin Fiala or Kaprizov. But what he is showing now is that he can be a volume shooter from high-percentage areas of the ice. That’s how Zach Parise made his living – being tenacious and impossible to check in front of the net. If this version of Greenway is here for good, it’ll be a gigantic lift to a team that needs more guys over-performing their contracts.

Greenway’s style of play will be invaluable during the postseason. At times this season, the Wild had issues against sturdy defenses that lock down the middle of the ice. For example, the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators pack it in tight to limit pucks reaching the net. Coincidentally, the Blues and Preds are lining up to be one of Minnesota’s first-round match-ups and could potentially be a second-round opponent if the Wild make it that far. If that happens, Minnesota will count upon Greenway’s style of grit and physicality. 

It also will have to rub off on the rest of the team. They’re going to have to lower their shoulders and drive the net. They’ll have to fire the puck for the purposes of a rebound chance. And, like Greenway, they will have to elevate their games another notch to be successful.

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Photo Credit: Harrison Barden-USA TODAY Sports

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