With Wild missing playoffs, time to shut down injured star Zach Parise
ST. PAUL -- Zach Parise proved everything he needed to prove on Tuesday night, April 2, at the Xcel Energy Center.
With the Minnesota Wild playing a must-win game against the rival Winnipeg Jets, the $98 million man gutted through what the team has been calling a significant lower-body injury, and scored a pair of goals in a 5-1 victory that ended up being bittersweet by the end of the night.
While the Wild did their part to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, the Colorado Avalanche officially eliminated them from playoff contention with a victory of their own about an hour later.
That should be reason enough to shut Parise down for the rest of the season.
There’s only two games left, at home against the Boston Bruins and at the Dallas Stars, and neither games means anything now that the Wild have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Whether it’s general manager Paul Fenton, coach Bruce Boudreau or athletic trainer John Worley, the Wild need to make sure Parise doesn’t do anymore damage at this point.
“I’m going to ask him how he feels,” Boudreau said. “If there’s anything wrong with him, we’re not going to risk him getting more hurt.”
There might be a temptation for Parise to play down the stretch. He has 28 goals this season, meaning he’s ever so close to reaching the heralded 30-goal milestone for the seventh time in his career.
“It’s always a nice number,” Parise said Tuesday night, noting that it would be “garbage time points” if he were to play. “Maybe re-evaluate (on Wednesday) and go from there. I haven’t really thought about that.”
It’s still unclear whether Parise will return to the lineup. He took a maintenance day Wednesday, and his status for Thursday night’s game remains up in the air.
“It’s not up to me,” Boudreau said. “It’s up to the doctors and trainers and the individual.”
In this case, the latter probably shouldn’t have a choice in the matter.
Best seat in the house
Nico Sturm couldn’t have been placed in a more perfect position inside the locker room at TRIA Rink.
His locker is in between those of veterans Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu, something he realized right away upon his arrival at practice Wednesday morning.
“Those are guys that have had a long career and made a lot of money in this league,” Sturm said. “They have been super welcoming and have offered me a lot of advice. It’s a confidence thing going into training camp next season.”
It’s been a hectic 48 hours for Sturm since signing a one-year, entry-level contract with the Wild earlier this week. He is hoping to make his NHL debut on Thursday night, assuming everything with his visa gets figured out in the next 24 hours.
“I’m going to keep it simple,” Sturm said. “I’m going to stick to what made me get here. Just pride myself on the defensive work and then hop in the rush and hopefully make a couple of plays. Just soak it all in. I’ll only get my first game once. It’s going to be exciting.”
Former Gophers goalie Mat Robson signed a two-year, entry-level contract with the Wild a couple of weeks ago and has been with the NHL team ever since.
That said, don’t expect Robson to suit up between the pipes any time soon, even with the Wild eliminated from playoff contention.
“The main reason is not that he can’t play or won’t play; it is his equipment isn’t (up to) league rules yet,” Boudreau said. “We have ordered him all new NHL equipment. It hasn’t gotten here.”