Jordan Greenway brings size, skill, and swag to Wild playoff run
He’s a big reason the Wild are up 2-1 in their first-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
ST. LOUIS — Wild winger Jordan Greenway made his NHL debut on March 27, 2018. A few weeks after that, he was playing in a playoff series against the rival Winnipeg Jets. As a wide-eyed, 21-year-old kid, nonetheless.
“It was definitely intimidating at first,” Greenway said. “You adjust quickly. The nerves kind of go away with all the adrenaline and everything like that. Obviously it’s a lot different now.”
That’s an understatement. Now a 25-year-old man, Greenway is an established player in the NHL, and a big reason the Wild are up 2-1 in their first-round series with the St. Louis Blues.
He scored less than a minute into Game 3 on Friday night at Enterprise Center, igniting the Wild on their way to a 5-1 win. Maybe more important than the actual goal, though, Greenway, along with linemates Joel Eriksson Ek and Marcus Foligno, brought a physical presence every time he hopped over the boards.
“I think a majority of the season we usually play against the other team’s top line,” Greenway said. “Not only do we want to go out there and not allow them to score 5-on-5, we want to go out and produce and get some goals.”
The confidence with which Greenway spoke about his line is emblematic of his growth. He has long boasted the size and speed to be a dominant player at the highest level. Now he has the swag to go along with it.
“It helps when the team is playing as well as we are,” Greenway said. “It allows everyone to kind of play with a little more confidence and a little more edge. It’s nice to have the success we’ve been having.”
No doubt Greenway has been a key contributor in that success.
“His game has matured,” coach Dean Evason said. “He has embraced what is going to allow Jordan Greenway to have success individually in the National Hockey League. That’s not dangling around people. It’s using his big body and his speed.”
Though it’s impossible to pinpoint the moment everything clicked for Greenway, it’s safe to say it’s been building over the past few months. After admitting earlier this season that playing physical doesn’t come natural for him, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Greenway has started to fully embrace it as of late.
Asked about Greenway’s shift in mentality, Foligno joked, “I just yell at him all the time to get him going. You guys don’t see it. I get him pissed off.”
Whatever works. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see Greenway deliver a huge hit along the boards, then immediately stand up for himself after the whistle.
Maybe in the past, Foligno would’ve had to jump in to calm things down. Not anymore.
“He’s a guy that needed to understand that it’s the physical side first and then the skill can follow up,” Foligno said. “He’s done a great job with it. The past couple games he’s been awesome. When Greener does that, he’s a force out there, and it’s something we need moving forward, for sure.”
Aside from embracing the physical side of the game on the ice, Greenway has also matured off the ice. While he always has been revered by his teammates for being a goofy guy in the locker room, Greenway didn’t always channel it in the right way early in his career.
“Sometimes he took his joking around stuff into games, and that’s not good,” Evason said. “It’s not unlike a lot of other players. It takes time to mature. It’s taken him some time to mature and figure out his game. Now, when he comes to the rink, it’s businesslike, and it’s allowed him to play like that.”
If the Wild go on a deep playoff run, someone like Greenway could emerge as a star. Not only is he built for these types of game, his confidence level is at an all time high.
“It’s too hard to come into the playoffs without having confidence,” Greenway said. “I think other players see that and other teams see that and they can take advantage of that. Whether guys have it or have to fake it, whatever the case is, I think confidence is what allows people to have success.”