MINNEAPOLIS - The Minnesota Wild is 13 games away from playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and nobody is happier to be back on the ice than veteran Zach Parise.
The Wild is 27-13-3 and has 57 points through 43 games. They’re comfortably in the No. 3 spot in the Honda West, and this year the top four teams in each division make the playoffs after 56 regular season games. Parise scored on Saturday against the San Jose Sharks, part of a three-goal first period for the Wild.
It was Parise’s 400th career point with the Wild. Only Mikko Koivu and Marian Gaborik have reached that milestone with Minnesota.
"I’ve said before those are nice round numbers to hit. You feel like it’s nice to be rewarded when you’re doing the right things and playing the game the right way. But I’ve got a lot left in the tank, so hopefully not going to be stopping there," Parise told Fox 9 Sports Director Jim Rich Sunday night on Fox 9 Sports Now.
It’s been an up-and-down season for Parise. He was benched earlier this year for just the second time in his NHL career, and first with the Wild. He also had to sit out nearly two weeks after being placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol List, despite having a false positive test followed up by several negative tests.
"Keep your mouth shut and work hard, that’s more so been my approach to it. I know I’m still a good player in this league. I know I can play in a big role and in an important role, so you have something to prove and you’re playing with a little bit of a chip on your shoulder because when things are taken away from you, internally you get a little upset about it," Parise said. "There’s no use spouting off about it, work harder in practice and earn your spot back. That’s kind of been my approach.
Parise has bounced back in a big way since his return. He’s got points in five of the last six Wild games, and goals in four of those five games. The Wild is 4-1-1 over that stretch, and Parise has formed a chemistry playing alongside Nico Sturm and Nick Bonino. The trio has nine points in their last three games.
"The production is there, so that always makes the game easier. When you find a chemistry with a couple guys and the pucks go in, you feel like as a line all three of us are playing well together," Parise said.
The Wild is at the Arizona Coyotes Monday night, having gone 6-3-1 in its past 10 games.