Veteran Wild forward Zach Parise felt like he found his groove over the last month. After a frustrating few months, the 36-year-old winger had finally taken on a reduced role in the line-up and looked highly motivated to prove that he could still play at an elite level.
While it didn’t result in boxing numbers in every game, Parise was involved on both ends and it seemed only a matter of time before he was rewarded for his efforts.
That changed when Parise landed on the COVID list. He returned a positive test on March 24 and spent the next week and a half off the team.
« It wasn’t ideal, » said Parise. « I thought I played some really good games before it happened. So the timing wasn’t that good. » How are you? I was dealt with that. «
When asked about his experience with the virus, Parise said he was still not convinced he actually had COVID. To make his point clear, he referred to how he had previously returned a false positive test.
« I didn’t feel anything the whole time I was out, » said Parise. « You have a hard time convincing me that I am sick. »
Even so, Parise followed league protocols while on the COVID list. He stayed at home during this time and returned to training on April 3 after being released.
« I didn’t really have much choice, » he said. « That part was frustrating because I thought there was really nothing wrong with me. »
Now that he’s back on the line-up, Parise wants to prove that he can still be a differentiator.
« I have no doubt that it is me and that it can be me, » he said. « I definitely want to show that I can play the game right. »
This was the least productive season of Parise’s 16-year NHL career. He has 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists) in 29 games this season and his ice time of 15 minutes and 35 seconds per game is the lowest since his rookie season with the New Jersey Devils in the 2005-06 season.
« It was frustrating, » said Parise. « It was pretty unique where my role here has definitely changed, not being in the power game and not playing that much. » It’s a minor adjustment. That was definitely a challenge. »
« You have no choice but to accept it, » said Parise. « Just practice the right way and work on my game as much as you can. So if there is an opportunity to start the power game, or if there is an opportunity to come out more, I am ready to go. »
In the meantime, Parise said he was focused on having a positive attitude. He knows this can go a long way if the Wild continue their push towards the playoffs.
« Just be a good teammate around the guys and support the guys who are in those roles, » he said. « Hopefully we can keep winning. »
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