DENVER — Carson Soucy seemed primed for a breakout campaign heading into last season. He had just played in a handful of playoff games about six months earlier, and coach Bruce Boudreau had high hopes for the 6-foot-5, 210-pound defenseman entering training camp.
Instead, Soucy looked out of place and uncomfortable, and ended up spending most of his time in the minors.
“If we remember last season at this time we went, ‘Holy smokes. What happened to him?’ ” Boudreau said. “He had a really terrible training camp, quite frankly, after having played in the playoffs the previous season. We expected a lot from him, and we didn’t get it.”
As far as Soucy was concerned, he wasn’t going to let that happen again. He settled in last season with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League and put in a solid season, producing 20 points in 66 games.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily a step back last season,” Soucy said. “It was just a slower start. I was still in summer mode when I got to training camp, and that was unfortunate.
“Honestly, this summer I had that fire right from the end of last season, and I brought that into training camp. I just wanted to be intense right away.”
He entered training camp as somewhat of a longshot to make the roster, but Soucy kept turning heads, and eventually beat out fellow blueliner Louie Belpedio for the final roster spot.
“We didn’t know what to expect, and he came in and he was aggressive and he moved the puck well and he defended well,” Boudreau said. “It was a tough battle. We thought we needed the size and a little bit more composure, and Carson has shown that.”
And now, Soucy is getting a shot to establish himself. He slotted into the lineup for Saturday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche, replacing Nick Seeler on the blue line, and brings an added sense of grit to the blue line.
“It was not sending a message to Seeler or anything like that,” Boudreau said. “It’s the second game of the season and we want to get everybody involved.”
If Soucy performs at a high level, he could emerge as a regular in the lineup over time. It helps that he already has playoff experience under his belt.
“Just playing against those guys in the playoffs was another level,” Soucy said. “You’ve got to be ready every shift. If it’s a slower game and doesn’t seem like everything is going fast, one shift and it can be in the back of the net. Ultimately the experience was great. Hopefully play with some composure (against the Avalanche) and play that physical game.”
A SPECTACULAR SAVE
A couple of days after making what might go down as the best save in the NHL this season, robbing former teammate Mikael Granlund from point-blank range, Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk was still answering questions about it.
How did he anticipate what was going to happen on the odd-man rush? Why did he decide to stack his pads? What was going through his head as he was pirouetting to the ice?
HAVE MERCY, Devan Dubnyk! ?
Early candidate for save of the year! pic.twitter.com/9t72eeN6ge
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) October 4, 2019
“Sometimes my brain just decides to do something like that,” Dubnyk said. “I know the guys loved it on the bench, and the most important thing is the puck stayed out of the net.
“It’s fun to be able to do something like that once in awhile. It’s not really part of my game. I don’t hit the highlights too often unless I’m flying around doing poke checks out of my net.”
In the hours leading into Saturday’s contest, Mikko Koivu was anticipating an intense battle, like every time the Wild take on the Avalanche.
That said, Koivu preached to everyone to remain level-headed regardless of the situation.
“You have to play hard and play tough,” he said. “You also have to be disciplined. In order to win in this league, we have to be consistent with that night in and night out. You’ve just got to be smart with it.”