Joel Eriksson Ek is the final word agitator for the Wild: ‘I like him a lot more on my team’ – InForum

If Joel Eriksson Ek has confirmed something all through his NHL profession, it’s that he’s the final word agitator. That stated, the 25-year-old Swede additionally has a ability set that’s far more polished than his grit-and-grind fashion of play may counsel.

Just ask veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who has seen each side of the spectrum, first as an opponent and now as a teammate with the Wild.

Almost precisely 12 months in the past, Fleury was between the pipes for the Vegas Golden Knights when Eriksson Ek scored in time beyond regulation of Game 1 to carry Wild to a 1-0 victory. As a lot as the tip consequence obtained underneath Fleury’s pores and skin on the time, and for good purpose, he famous that Eriksson Ek’s antics all through the sport have been much more annoying than the precise game-winner.

“I like him a lot more on my team,” Fleury stated with amusing, joking that Eriksson Ek lives for a goalmouth scrum. “Everybody gets mad at him and then he just acts like he doesn’t know why, like, ‘What did I do?’ ”

All of that was on show Wednesday evening on the Xcel Energy Center as Eriksson Ek ignited the Wild en path to a 6-2 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 2 of their first-round playoff collection.

After the Wild have been shut out by Blues goaltender Ville Husso in Game 1 two nights earlier, Eriksson Ek lastly broke the ice with a objective roughly 10 minutes into Game 2. He adopted it with one other objective later within the sport, all of the whereas parking his 6-foot-3, 210-pound physique in Husso’s crease each time he hopped over the boards.

“I try to play the same way every night,” Eriksson Ek stated. “Just being in front of the net and trying to score goals around there.”

That wears on an opposing crew. Especially in a playoff collection.

“He’d sure piss me off, that’s for sure,” Wild coach Dean Evason stated.

Asked about Eriksson Ek, linemate Marcus Foligno in contrast him to Boston Bruins middle Patrice Bergeron and a few of the different standout 200-foot gamers throughout the league.

“But I think the physical side of it is another step above a lot of those guys,” Foligno stated. “He’s so big and strong. He likes to compete. He likes to hit. And in a playoff series, that pays dividends.”

The tenacity with which Eriksson Ek performs the sport has translated into success over the previous couple of seasons. After ending final season with 19 targets and 11 assists in 56 video games — the most effective numbers of his NHL profession to that time — Eriksson Ek topped that this season with new profession highs of 26 targets and 23 assists in 77 video games. He discovered his position and performs it to perfection every sport.

“It’s a learning curve,” he stated. “Just getting the chance to play a lot of minutes, and play important minutes, is helping me build confidence and become the player I want to be.”

When a reporter advised that Eriksson Ek’s development has been spectacular, coach Dean Evason had a unique viewpoint. It’s not spectacular. It’s anticipated.

“It’s literally routine for him,” Evason stated. “He does the exact same thing every single night. We talk about predictability and being predictable with our work ethic. You play against Eriksson Ek and better be ready to play because his work ethic is always, always on point.”

His toughness can be unmatched. There have been a number of occasions late within the season that Wild coaches thought they could need to take Eriksson Ek out of the lineup. They’d see him limp off the airplane solely to indicate up at morning skate 24 hours later able to go. Very not often would Eriksson Ek even method head coach John Worley about how he was feeling.

“He just doesn’t do that,” Evason stated. “Every hockey player plays through some bumps and bruises. The way that he plays the game he’s busted up a lot. You just wouldn’t know it.”

There’s an excellent likelihood Eriksson Ek is enjoying by some ache proper now. He seemingly should battle by extra bumps and bruises if the Wild need to get previous the Blues.

There’s little question he’s as much as the duty.

“I think he showed how good he is,” Fleury stated. “It felt good to get the first goal (in Game 2) and get the fans on their feet. The building was loud and from that point on we didn’t look back. I thought we played very good and we kept pushing.”

All with Eriksson Ek main the cost.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-St. Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild

Minnesota Wild middle Joel Eriksson Ek (14) scores in opposition to the St. Louis Blues within the second interval in Game 2 of the primary spherical of the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports

Source hyperlink

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.