The Minnesota Wild will have to make do without forward Zach Parise, as he’s out week-to-week with a sprained MCL. He suffered the injury on Thursday after a hit from Nashville Predators forward James Neal.
General manager Chuck Fletcher had an interesting approach to the news. “I think it’s great news. He’ll be out a few weeks but all things considered, in terms of knee injuries, it’s best-case scenario,” he said. “It’s certainly not months but it’s not days. He’ll be out this week but next week we’ll have a better feel for how the recovery is going.”
That’s certainly true, as the injury to Parise could’ve been a lot worse.
But Parise currently leads the Wild with seven goals and nine points in a dozen games. Three of those seven goals have come on the power play, plus the 31-year-old has been firing the puck well with 42 shots on goal so far.
Historically, the Wild haven’t been great without Parise. They’ve gone 9-14-0 without him over the last two seasons. And they’ve got a small flood of games against Central Division opponents over the next little while, which means they’ll be looking to pick up critical points.
The power play will also face some adversity, with Parise stacking up with the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Joe Pavelski when it comes to man-advantage production. The Wild have been doing rather well on the power play this season, with Parise and Ryan Suter driving the attack. The club is sitting fifth overall on the man-advantage as of press time.
He’s also great at the intangibles, like how he limped off the ice after the Neal hit but came back to play five shifts in the first period.
“Most players would not have been able to come back and he came back. Even then the doctors said, ‘You gotta come out,’” Fletcher said. “You’re managing the injury, but you’re also managing Zach. He’d probably want to play tonight. But we want to do what’s right for Zach and for the team long-term.”
The Wild have pulled Christoph Bertschy from the AHL to help contend with the loss of Parise, but this is probably going to sting a little bit. While Fletcher is right to say that things could be worse, this is a hockey team that could be in tight without their top player.