Last night was monumental for some very minor reasons, but still enjoyable ones. The Minnesota Wild (sort of) returned to the ice for the first time in a very long time and fans all around the globe were able to watch Matt Boldy and Marco Rossi play in their colors, again, for the first time.
It was the first game of two during the shortened prospect showcase against the Chicago Blackhawks that is taking place before the NHL training camp begins, and it was certainly a good warm-up. To see the handful of players that are going to be battling it out with the more established veterans on the roster for spots in the lineup is something to get your fan-blood pumping. And the tandem of Boldy and Rossi certainly caused some of that.
Not only were they able to play on the same team for the first time, but the two top prospects played on the same line and the same powerplay unit for our first true glimpse at what they can do when combining their talents.
It paid off.
Almost instantly connecting for some goals, Boldy was able to use his impressive size and ability to protect the puck to keep possession and lay out the perfect pass to an in-motion Rossi down the middle of the ice. And of course the 2020 ninth overall pick handled his way to the net and put it past for the game-tying tally. (The Wild ended up winning 3-2 by the way).
It wasn’t only during that goal though, from the drop of the puck they seemed to just know where the other player was and have an innate instinct to make the right plays. Even defensively, they would be able to have the confidence positionally to go for that pokecheck and not feel like they are getting stranded out there or easily beaten. It was a full two-way effort from both players and I am positive that that is what every member of the Wild organization is frothing at the mouth for. Even though their offense carried them through their amateur careers, they have simply developed into players that have a high work ethic on the ice, no matter which of the three zones they are skating in.
Even earlier, before the Rossi goal, they were able to demonstrate their awareness.
This was really the first major scoring chance the team had during the showcase game and it was just two players making the other team’s defense looking like useless and stationary mannequins wearing the ugliest shirt imaginable. The defensive effort to start from Rossi, the connection with Boldy taking the puck and dishing it to the already-surging-to-the-net Marco is just a joy to watch.
Am I saying that we should expect these two to make the Wild out of camp and instantly be put on a line together in the top-six? Although I would love it, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Wild management might see these two guys still needing some time in Iowa, and as controversial that might be, it might make sense just to ease them into full-time professional hockey.
I think this says more about their individual talents than their work together though. If they are able to train together for just over a week and seem this cohesive (against albeit shitty prospects) then imagine what they can do after training with a top-six NHL forward. They appear to be extremely adaptable players that will work their ass off no matter what, in practice or during a game.
If Rossi and Boldy evolve into all-situation forwards, then any bit of chemistry is just icing on top. Maybe these are just really damn good hockey players and last night we saw them setting each other up as they clowned on a poor Chicago team.