ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - The downward spiral after the All-Star break is now starting to break in the Wild’s favor.
Minnesota’s current four-game winning streak is the team’s longest since October. It’s a new direction helped out by two brand new faces acquired via recent trades.
Forwards Ryan Donato and Kevin Fiala are finding new roles with Minnesota on the ice, and still learning the lay of the land off of it.
“This was my first practice with the team that’s a real practice and not a morning skate,” Donato said on Thursday. “I’m just getting familiar with the practice rink. This was my first time here (at TRIA Rink), too.”
Donato is getting used to his new surroundings, but fans are already used to seeing him produce for the Wild.
In his first week with the team, Donato scored six points in only four games after tallying only nine points in the 34 games prior to his stint in Minnesota. A stat line he credits to more chances.
“I’ve just been lucky to have a lot of opportunity and to have the puck go in,” Donato told FOX 9. “Sometimes you might be able to create those chances and it just never goes in. It’s been going in lately and hopefully it will continue to do that.”
“He’s gone from third or fourth line to first or second line. He’s gone from no power play to power play. He’s gone from nine minutes per game to 16 minutes per game. That’s a big difference,” Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau said of Donato’s play. “I would love for it to continue, but that’s a pretty hefty pace he’s going on.”
Time with his new team is something Fiala has not had much of in the last few days after being traded on Monday.
The former Nashville Predator played 17 minutes in his first game with the Wild in Winnipeg on Tuesday. A good start as things now start to settle down for the new forward.
“We’ve got like three days until the next game and that will help me a little more with calming down,” Fiala told FOX 9. “My head is getting clear again and getting normal again, and right now after one practice with them it feels good.”
“It’s just getting easier,” Fiala added.
The acquisitions of Donato and Fiala are signs of a youth movement in St. Paul for the future. But for both guys in their early twenties, a late season resurgence is their only goal for now.
“Whenever you’re winning, the vibes are way better,” Donato said. “I think the attitudes and the minds, according to the guys here, have changed. Hopefully it can stay that way so we can continue to win.”
The Wild travel north to face the Calgary Flames on Saturday at 9:00 P.M.