ST. PAUL -- Maybe the Wild have found their own personal GEEK Squad to fix their problems.
Not to be confused with the techies that work for Best Buy, Jordan Greenway, Joel Eriksson Ek and Luke Kunin are helping Minnesota find its legs after a difficult start — and coach Bruce Boudreau couldn’t be happier.
“They are getting better and better,” he said. “That’s going to be a great line in the future for this team.”
And in the present.
There could be a legitimate argument made that Greenway, Eriksson Ek and Kunin have been the Wild’s most consistent combination over the past couple of weeks. They have been so good, in fact, that Boudreau has regularly deployed them against the other team’s top line.
“It allows us to get Eric Staal’s line and Mikko Koivu’s line against somebody else if they can do the job,” Boudreau explained. “I think they like playing with each other, and they have been very responsible, so far, when I’ve given them a job to do. It’s hard not to like them right now.”
It makes sense that the GEEK Squad has been so good together. Eriksson Ek is meticulously responsibility in both ends, Greenway brings a unique physical presence and Kunin provides some scoring prowess from in close.
“We all kind of bring something different to the table,” Greenway said. “We have just been able to build off each other. It’s been going great with those guys. We just want to continue to get better and build off what we started.”
It’s also helped that the trio has been able to develop some chemistry while playing together for a prolonged period of time. That wasn’t the case last month when Boudreau repeatedly shuffled the deck in search of some offense.
“It for sure helps to play with the same guys,” Eriksson Ek said. “You just get a feel for each other every game, you start to trust each other more and more and start to know where the other guys are going to be without even looking. It’s made things a lot easier for us.”
As much as the Wild would like the GEEK Squad to score with more regularity — between them, they have 6 goals and 20 assists in 20 games — if the three young players can become a shutdown line, that might be more than enough.
“We like that role,” Kunin said. “It’s a good challenge every time we get put out there against some of the best players in the league. It’s fun to shut them down, and we can also take advantage of those guys maybe cheating offensively and get some opportunities going the other way.
“It’s been going good, so we can’t change the way we play no matter who we’re up against.”
Injured defenseman Greg Pateryn is getting close to returning. He was a full participant in practice on Monday morning and is nearing 100 percent as he recovers from sports hernia surgery. “He’s going to be in full practice this week,” Boudreau said. “He’s probably going to get cleared on Wednesday or Thursday, so we’ll see what happens then.”