Every Wednesday, FOX Sports North takes a look at which athletes’ stock is trending up and whose is trending down.
In other words, who is heating up and who is cooling off.
With that in mind, let’s take stock of the current Minnesota sports scene.
Byron Buxton, Twins outfielder
Buxton had a phenomenal Opening Day in center field. He laid out for a pair of outstanding catches, recovering from a deep stumble on the second, before charging forward and making the grab regardless. Buxton struggled at the plate — he went 0-for-5, struck out three times and swung at pretty much everything — but also changed his walkup song to Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack,” so we’re prepared to let that slide.
Nino Niederreiter, Wild forward
El Nino descends on Carolina. Carolina swept away by El Nino. El Nino storms through Carolina. Niederreiter’s performance Tuesday night was the sort of thing that headline writers (see above) dream about. He racked up two goals and an assist to lead the Wild to a 5-3 win and home ice in the playoffs. He now has 24 goals on the season and a career-high 55 points.
Zach Parise, Wild forward
The Wild warmed up in Minnesota North Stars jerseys to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the since-departed team’s first season, but Parise took things an emotional step further. Parise hit the ice wearing his father’s helmet and gloves, looking an awful lot like his dad in a classic bucket and CCM gloves. J.P. Parise played for the North Stars from 1967-75, and coached his son at Minnesota prep school Shattuck St. Mary’s. He died in 2015 after battling lung cancer.
Ervin Santana, Twins pitcher
For all the concerns about the pitchers behind him, Twins ace Ervin Santana looked the part on Opening Day. The veteran went seven innings, allowing one run — a solo homer to Mike Moustakas — on just two hits and two walks.
Christian Ramirez, Minnesota United striker
Minnesota finally has its first MLS win, and longtime Loons star Ramirez made the difference. He scored two goals Saturday night with the game tied 1-1, powering United to a 4-2 win over Real Salt Lake. A Golden Boot winner during United’s days in the second-division NASL, Ramirez’s scoring prowess has translated to MLS, where he ranks fourth in the league with four goals in just five games.
Devan Dubnyk, Wild goalie
The Wild are scoring again, but Dubnyk’s late-season struggles have continued. AHL starter Alex Stalock spelled Dubnyk over the weekend, but the Wild’s starter has allowed three or more goals in three of his last five starts. Meanwhile, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky is now the frontrunner in the race for the Vezina Trophy, and leads Dubynk and the league with a 2.02 GAA, .933 save percentage and 41 wins.
The writing has been on the wall for a few weeks now, but it’s finally official: The Wolves are out of the playoffs. The Wolves were officially eliminated from Saturday night, and will miss the postseason for the 13th straight season despite inspired performances from Andrew Wiggins, Karl-Anthony Towns and Ricky Rubio down the stretch.