When forward Marcus Johansson crashed into the post and broke his arm against Vegas Thursday night, a door to the Minnesota Wild roster opened. But who walks through that door might not be known until the Wild take the ice for Saturday morning's skate ahead of Game 4 in St. Paul that evening.
The two choices, however, are obvious: Zach Parise or Matt Boldy.
Parise, the former All-Star and Olympian, has been a healthy scratch in all three playoff games against the Golden Knights, while Boldy, 20, is a fast-rising prospect whom the Wild picked 12th overall in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.
Boldy is in Minnesota and ready to play if called upon. He was among five others from the Iowa Wild who were recalled by the Minnesota Wild this week. Boldy and defensemen Calen Addison and Louie Belpedio, forwards Connor Dewar and Brandon Duhaime, and goalie Hunter Jones are all on the taxi squad preparing to play at a moment's notice.
Prior to Johansson's arm injury Thursday night, Wild coach Dean Evason said Boldy and everyone else need to be ready, adding that he's not afraid "to make decisions and put people in if they warrant to play."
That's been obvious as Evason has benched Parise regularly, both late in the season and to start the playoffs, despite Parise being the most accomplished player on the roster. But as his age increases and his skills decrease, Evason has gone with the players he feels can best help the Wild win.
Which again begs the question: Is Parise or Boldy more prepared to help the Wild win Saturday night to avoid falling into a 3-1 hole in the best-of-seven series?
Declan Goff, who covers the Wild for SKOR North, thinks Boldy is the obvious choice.
"The reason you play Matthew Boldy over Parise is simple: speed and creativity. Parise simply can’t keep up in today’s pace of the NHL. There’s a reason his minutes significantly decreased over the course of the season," says Goff.
"Boldy on the other hand is exactly what the Wild need to keep up with the Knights. He’s succeeded every step from the college ranks to the AHL. Colorado made a similar decision three years back with Cale Makar. Albeit they play different positions, he was a decorated college player who made his NHL debut in the playoffs. The Wild should follow suit and dress Boldy for the rest of the postseason."
Game 4 starts Saturday at 7 p.m. and will be televised on NBC. Game 5, back in Vegas on Monday, will start at 9:30 p.m. Central Time.