MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two hours before Game 7 in Colorado, Nino Niederreiter sat alone in the stands. Just a man, his thoughts and his hockey sticks.
It’s a routine he started a few years ago and does before every game; sitting in the seats, taping his sticks and getting focused.
“If you’re by yourself, it’s kind of, it’s easier to think about it than with a bunch of guys,” Niederreiter said.
He always has the same routine, at home or on the road. And it’s always the same seat – center ice, right above the Wild bench, row 15, seat 10. It’s a routine he began in his WHL days.
“I saw, one time, another player doing it. And kinda felt like I want to try this, just to feel like it’s a good thing just to focus on your game and focus on what you want to do tonight, and just be by yourself for a moment,” Niederreiter said. “And after that, it kind of helped me.”
No reason to change the routine now. His three post-season goals are third-most on the team and have all come in big situations. Two were in Game 7 in Denver, including the overtime winner.
His other goal was the game winner Saturday night in Game 4 against Chicago. He’s got five points in the last five games.
“I think it started during Game 6 (against Colorado),” said Wild coach Mike Yeo. “And I remember that game that even his first period was sort of OK. But then it was just, something just flipped. He flipped a switch there, and it was just an opportunity for us to say, ‘OK, There it is, that’s the blueprint. That’s what we need night after night.'”
Niederreiter says he’s loved the challenge of trying to be a “difference maker” since he was a kid.
“I feel like I told myself to try get more offensive ability going, and I feel like that came in Game 6 and try to get more and more shots off and I feel like that’s kind of the key for me,” he said.