Aside from watching our favorite hockey team called the Minnesota Wild play the sport that they do, all I’ve been doing is enjoying professional wrestling. It has taken ahold of me, shaken me free of the standard rhythm of sports enjoyment rust, and given me a new lens to generally enjoy things though. Everything is professional wrestling, life mirrors professional wrestling, and I can not get enough of that good stuff.
And easily one of the most enjoyable little nuggets of wrestling that I have experienced in the last little bit is All Elite Wrestling’s trio “Death Triangle.” While they are current in this weird middle stage due to regular Ray Fenix’s injury, they went ahead and nabbed Erick Redbeard, a hulking brute of a man, to fill out the trio that already has Fenix’s “Lucha Brothers” partner Penta Oscuro, and a cartoonishly-built man named Pac.
While they aren’t getting any significant screen time — or even any matches — it is just the dynamic of a crafty high-flyer, a typical looking wrestler that can pull off some incredible one-time stunts, and this gigantic Big Dude; that catches my attention and has me just craving more.
If that sounded extremely corny to you, or just honest gibberish, then I invite you to just watch their match they had during the pre-show of AEW’s most recent pay-per-view Revolution.
It just works and it, realistically, they won’t get the massive recognition as some of the other prominent tag teams, whether Death Triangle includes Ray Fenix or the big ugly dude. So I’m going to enjoy it for as long as I can. And that is exactly how I feel about the Minnesota Wild’s dominant powerhouse forward line made up of Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, and Jordan Greenway.
The Wild’s two-way three-headed monster is among the NHL’s top lines in just about every underlying metric you want to look at. Expected goals share? Fourth. Shot attempts share? 17th. Goals share? Well, the trio nicknamed as “The GREEF Line” is scoring 83.3 percent of the goals while they are on the ice. That’s the best in the whole damn league.
It won’t be this perfect forever — although the three of them have existed in some form the last couple of years — but we can just enjoy it as they overpower just about any opponent.
“They’re one of the best lines in the league at shutting down other team’s top lines and not giving up much,” Wild netminder Cam Talbot said Sunday. “What they do in the offensive zone, too, especially on a back-to-back, they just wear teams down, they get pucks deep, they go to work. They’re three big, heavy bodies down there, and once they get the puck and they get rolling, it’s tough to get it back from them. ...They set the tone for our team pretty much every night in different ways.”
This trio can simply do it all. They can beat opponents off rushes, down low, play out a grinding game, cycle the puck with talented passing plays; they are the offensive utility knife while also being one of the most defensively reliable forward lines in the top level of this sport.
In the same way, my (and yours) favorite current tag team provides different dynamics that can apply to the majority of match styles. Just like Eriksson Ek and Foligno’s elite ability to forecheck, the high-flying aerial style is certainly the specialty for Death Triangle, with some of the most entertaining leaping wrestlers in Penta, and (originally) Ray Fenix. They can play a brutish striking game to some degree, just like how the Wild’s two-way trio have a solid foundation to their game but not any obvious top-tier skill. They just do everything else correctly.
“It makes us more dangerous,” Eriksson Ek said Sunday, speaking to the line’s ability to chip in on offense occasionally. “We know we have players: Kirill, Zuccy, Kevin, who are really offensively gifted players. But for us to have more players come up and score some goals and make some plays, it’s important and it makes the whole team harder to defend for sure.”
This innate ability to beat teams in multiple ways has got them far enough to be one of the most successful lines in the modern NHL.
since 2009, there have been only two forward lines (min. 300 TOI) to score >80% of the goals while they are on the ice at 5v5:— thomas williams (@nosalaryretaind) April 5, 2022
Greenway - Eriksson Ek - Foligno (21-22)
Marchand - Bergeron - Seguin (12-13)
That’s right. Only some of the most traditionally two-way players in the league were able to have a goals share even close to the Wild trio this season. No one has even been really close and Minnesota is reaping the benefits of having such a reliably dominant team available to them. They will most likely start with them on the ice against typically tough opponents, they use them against any top line, they can suffocate stars like they are nothing, and bring them down to a humbling level of hockey. There is no escaping the presence of Eriksson Ek, Greenway, and Foligno on the ice; it does not matter who you are or what you have accomplished, you will play worse than you are accustomed to. GREEF is inevitable. The Minnesotan Death Triangle will work you to the bone.
Preferences change over time. Some day, I will wake up and acknowledge that I would rather watch a group of forwards that occasionally do absolutely mind-blowingly remarkable stunts, or a wrestling faction that only does one thing and does it extremely well. But right now, I am very much a big mark for any combination of athletes that can do a lot of things well enough to result in an overall enjoyable thing, right now, and both of these trios are just doing it for me.
While Death Triangle appears to be nowhere near any title race or even any storyline, the Wild are right in the thick of one of their most important seasons in franchise history, and a lot of it is due to the reliance they have on their own death triangle. Will that lead them to lifting their own shiny thing in the air after a hard-fought and lengthy battle? We’ll have to wait a few months to find out.