Wild’s depth to be tested on tough road trip – Star Tribune

RALEIGH, N.C. — The players the Wild added before the NHL trade deadline last month made the roster deeper for the playoffs, but that depth is being tested right now.

Matt Boldy was sidelined Saturday against the Hurricanes after getting knocked out of the 4-3 overtime loss to the Penguins on Thursday with an upper-body injury, and the rookie is unlikely to suit up on Sunday when the Wild finishes off a back-to-back vs. the Capitals.

Jon Merrill is also out with an upper-body injury but unlike Boldy, the defenseman didn’t travel with the team for this four-game road trip.

“Obviously, that’s more serious,” coach Dean Evason said.

With Merrill unavailable, Alex Goligoski was back in action on the blue line after being a healthy scratch for three games — his first appearance since a two-year, $4 million contract extension was announced on Wednesday.

Up front, Tyson Jost was promoted to fill out the line that Boldy played on before getting hurt.

Jost switched to left wing after previously centering the fourth line, with Kevin Fiala going from the left side to the right and Frederick Gaudreau staying up the middle.

“It’s a great opportunity,” said Jost, who skated in his ninth game Saturday with the Wild since a March 15 trade from the Avalanche. “I feel like I’ve been playing really good hockey, too, creating a lot of chances. It’s bound to go in sooner than later.

“I’m excited. I’m going to be playing with a couple of good players. It should be awesome.”

Nick Bjugstad took Jost’s spot at center alongside wingers Nic Deslauriers and Brandon Duhaime, Bjugstad’s first action since March 16 after sitting seven games as a scratch.

Boldy did skate Saturday and the Wild hopes to evaluate him for the third stop on the trip, a Tuesday contest against the Predators.

After recently sending Connor Dewar to the minors, the Wild doesn’t currently have any extra healthy forwards with the team. Jordie Benn was the lone scratch on defense.

“We’ve always felt very good about the people that we’ve had here that we feel comfortable putting them in,” Evason said, “and Bjuggy is that guy and obviously Goligoski is as well.”

Nifty feed

Ryan Hartman had the setup on Kirill Kaprizov’s 38th goal and 83rd point on Thursday that tied Marian Gaborik’s single-season scoring record with the Wild, a dish out front after Hartman passed the puck to himself off the back of the net and around Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin.

“I’ve tried it a few times, and it hasn’t worked,” Hartman said. “It did get airborne. Usually, it stays flat. I think he would’ve got a skate on it if it stayed on the ice. I got lucky it went in the air.”

Goal No. 1

Matt Dumba’s goal against the Penguins was the first on the power play this season by a Wild defenseman.

Before then, the Wild and Blackhawks were the only teams in the NHL that hadn’t had a defenseman score on the power play.

“That’s one area we have to get better at is getting pucks through from the top and creating that havoc first and then hunting pucks,” said Evason, who also pointed out another potential factor: the Wild utilized just one defenseman on its units for most of the season. “Hopefully that provides us with some positive feedback that we can get some pucks to the net from the top.”