Winger Kevin Fiala isn’t sure how many times he’s suited up for the Wild, with the days a whirlwind since he was traded to Minnesota from the Nashville Predators last month.
But the 13 games he played before meeting up with his former team Monday at Xcel Energy Center have been enough for the 22-year-old to settle into his new surroundings.
“It was kind of up and down to start, and now I’m starting to feel better,” Fiala said. “Hopefully I can help the team a little more to success and winning some games.”
Unfamiliar with his teammates and the Wild’s system, and coping with the shock of the trade that sent forward Mikael Granlund to the Predators hours before the deadline expired Feb. 25, Fiala has become much more comfortable with the Wild.
After just two points, both goals in a March 5 reunion with the Predators in Nashville, Fiala tallied four assists in the five games leading up to Monday’s rematch. He put nine shots on net in that span, a number he’d like to grow to produce more — a boost the Wild could certainly use.
“He’s shown spurts of great skill that you can sit there and say, ‘Man, this guy could be really good,’ ” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I’d like to see it on a more consistent basis. But again, I think that’s going to come. Everything’s fresher when you start it in training camp. But he’s going to be a good player.”
Winger Zach Parise remained sidelined, missing a second straight game with a lower-body injury despite feeling better.
Parise was clipped last Friday by Capitals winger Tom Wilson in the third period. He was slow to get to the bench after the contact but kept playing and set up the game-winning goal in the 2-1 victory over Washington.
The team is hoping Parise will be back in action sooner rather than later, perhaps this weekend when the Wild has a two-game road trip that starts Friday in Vegas and wraps up Sunday in Arizona. That’s also when the Wild is targeting a potential return for center Joel Eriksson Ek, who’s been out since suffering a lower-body injury March 11 in a 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks.
Eriksson Ek skated Sunday for the first time since getting hurt and participated in the team’s morning skate Monday.
“He looked great [Monday],” Boudreau said. “You want to get him back in as soon as you can. But when somebody hasn’t skated for [almost two] weeks, I think it’s tough to throw them back in and then you have three days for him to skate this week and hopefully by Friday he’s ready to play.”