Wild winger Nico Sturm wasn’t shy about his feelings when asked about being a healthy scratch for last Thursday’s game against the Vegas Golden Knights.
“I mean, I wasn’t happy about it,” Sturm said. “If you show me a guy that doesn’t care that he’s scratched, I’ll show you a liar.”
Disappointed, yes. But the 25-year-old Sturm showed the type of professionalism that has impressed so many ever since he turned pro. As upset as he was with the decision, Sturm understood the rationale behind it, and owned up to the fact that his effort in the team’s loss to the San Jose Sharks the night before wasn’t good enough.
“It was just a passenger effort, and we lost the game, so that’s not good enough,” Sturm said. ” It’s a long season with a lot of games. I wish I could play 100 percent every night, and that’s certainly the goal. I’m only human, though, so every once in awhile I slip, too. Then it’s just about looking at it and saying, ‘OK. That’s not what it’s supposed to look like.’ ”
The original plan was to sit Sturm in the rematch against the Golden Knights on Saturday in Vegas, too, giving him some extra time to watch the game from above. That changed when fellow winger Mats Zuccarello was unable to play because of a lower-body injury.
That forced Sturm back into the lineup. He logged 8 minutes, 1 second of ice time in his return and was extremely active in both ends.
“We really liked his response,” coach Dean Evason said. “We liked his physicality. We liked his speed. We liked his tenaciousness on the forecheck and taking time and space away from people. It was a real strong game from him, and we’re looking forward for him to continue to do that to help us have success.”
It’s the type of response those who know Sturm have come to expect from him throughout his career. It’s also the type of response Sturm has come to expect from himself.
“I’ve faced worse adversity in my hockey career,” he said. “Not going to sit here and sulk about it. Just came back the next game against Vegas and did my job and moved on. Not a big deal for me at all.”
Zach Parise participated in Monday’s morning skate, a step in the right direction as he works his way back into the lineup. The 36-year-old winger was added to the COVID list on March 24.
While the return of Parise was the good news for the Wild, the bad news was Marcus Foligno and Mats Zuccarello are still nursing lower-body injuries and there is no timetable on their return.
Wild prospect Hunter Jones was named the American Hockey League Player of the Week after some stellar play between the pipes. The goaltender boasted a 3-0-0 record, 1.01 goals-against average and .969 save percentage last week, stopping 93 of 96 shots to lead the Iowa Wild to three consecutive wins.