How an 8-year-old helped turn Wild winger Ryan Reaves into a scoring machine
In the past month, Reaves has turned into a scoring machine. He posted a Gordie Howe Hat Trick last week against Arizona, then followed it up with a goal and an assist against St. Louis.
ST. PAUL -- Ryan Reaves was watching his son playing youth hockey last month when the chirps started to roll in.
At that point, Reaves had played in exactly 40 games for the Minnesota Wild, and still hadn’t found the back of the net despite some pretty good looks.
That production from the 36-year-old — or lack thereof — was more than enough ammunition for an 8-year-old at the local rink.
“A bunch of kids were there watching,” Reaves said with a laugh as he recalled the moment. “They were just giving it to me saying they had more goals than me.”
Fittingly, the next day Reaves scored his first goal in a Wild sweater.
It was an impressive play from the 6-foot-2, 225-pound winger, to say the least, as he skillfully batted a fluttering puck out of midair. Asked about the highlight after the Feb. 28 shootout win over the New York Islanders, Reaves breathed a sigh of relief, then kindly told the 8-year-old to eat his words.
Looking back on it now, maybe Reaves should’ve been thanking the kid.
In the past month, Reaves has turned into a scoring machine, at least by his standards. He posted a Gordie Howe Hat Trick last week against the Arizona Coyotes, then followed it up with a goal and an assist during a nationally televised game against the St. Louis Blues.
Asked about the recent uptick during a postgame interview with TNT last week, Reaves noted that the Wild needed the whole team to step up with Kirill Kaprizov on the shelf.
“Obviously, that’s our top goal scorer,” Reaves said with a laugh while setting himself up for the punchline. “Naturally, it falls on me to pick up the slack.”
All jokes aside, Reaves has found a way to affect the game lately, which bodes well for the Wild heading into the playoffs.
“I’m obviously happy for our line that we’re contributing,” Reaves said. “It’s important. Especially coming into the playoffs here. We know Kirill is going to start getting top checking lines in the playoffs, so we’re going to need everybody.”
As a player who usually doesn’t show up in the box score, Reaves has a very simple explanation for why he’s found some success lately.
“I’ve stopped trying to stickhandle and shoot,” Reaves said. “I’ve just been planting myself in front of the net. I think I found my game. It’s not handling the puck.”
Though he was clearly taking a shot at himself for his perceived lack of skill, that’s exactly how he scored a goal in the most recent game against the Washington Capitals. He hustled to the front of the net and promptly redirected an initial shot from Ryan Hartman.
Think of it as some ammunition for Reaves the next time he encounters that 8-year-old.
“I’m going to start hanging out at the local rinks a little bit more,” Reaves said with a laugh. “Just wait for kids to come at me.”
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