The Wild announced tonight that left wing Zach Parise, the team's leading scorer, is expected to miss between two to three weeks with a left foot contusion.
Both Parise and General Manager Chuck Fletcher said though that they actually believed they "dodged a bullet" by the news.
"I think we did dodge a little bit of a bullet with not having it broken or fractured or needing to get a surgery or anything on it," said Parise, who said he is wearing a walking boot. "If there’s any somewhat good news, that would be it."
Said Fletcher: "I think we were expecting four to six weeks, so to me, it’s disappointing to lose Zach for any amount of time, but when you look at the number of foot injuries that you see, it very easily could have been the four-to-six week scenario, and then you're talking 15 or 20 games. As crazy at it sounds, we're actually fairly pleased with the doctor's opinion today."
Parise was nailed by Alex Steen's one-timer on a late first-period penalty kill during Monday's 3-0 loss at St. Louis. He was late to the ice to begin the second period, then fought through three painful shifts before being lost for good. Once he took off his skate for the second time, he said the pain was just unbearable.
"At some point you just can't do it anymore," Parise said.
After the game, Parise was clear discomfort and only wore a dress sock on his left foot as he spoke to the media.
Parise's loss comes at the start of the Wild's toughest stretch so far this season. Eight of the next 10 games come against Phoenix, Colorado, Chicago, San Jose and Anaheim.
"Really frustrated, especially looking at the schedule that we’ve got coming up," Parise said. "We have some important games, some tough games, so the timing is not ideal, so hopefully it won’t be that long and I’ll be able to come back sooner than we’re saying."
Parise said, "A lot of it has to do with when I’ll be able to walk comfortably, when I’ll even be able to push off in a skate comfortably. Hopefully that’ll be sooner rather than later with treatment."
Fletcher said the guidelines are very vague, that it could be 10 days, it could be three weeks, that "knowing Zach, he's such a competitor and wants to play, I don't want to guess when he'll be back, but two to three is a conservative estimate. We're fortunate."
Right now, Fletcher says the Wild hasn't officially called up any forwards because the roster is in a state of flux. Wednesday morning, the Wild essentially has to count bodies. If Josh Harding can't back up, he'll go on injured reserve. If Mikael Granlund can't play, he'll go on injured reserve, too. That would allow the Wild to call up a forward and activate Keith Ballard, who is probable to return, off IR. They also have to see if Torrey Mitchell can return.
"We certainly have our share of injuries right now," Fletcher said. "We’ll just have to do our best. We believe our depth is better. this will be an opportunity for some players to step up and play bigger roles on our team. Dany Heatley has done a lot better the last couple weeks. This is an opportunity potentially for him to step up and play a bigger role. Jason Zucker is a player that didn’t make our team out of camp and now potentially there’s a bigger role staring him in the face as well. We certainly have on paper the guys that can step in and score goals. It’s going to be a challenge. You can’t replace Zach. There’s not another Zach Parise in your minor-league system, so we’ll have to rely on some other players to step up and take advantage of a bigger role and hopefully we find a way to score enough goals.”
Coach Mike Yeo will discuss what Parise's loss does to the lineup after Wednesday's morning skate.
"I think we’ll do fine," Parise said. "We’ve been playing well and we’ve been getting points and playing some good hockey. I do think we have some tough games coming up, but I think the guys will do fine and hopefully I’ll be back sooner rather than later."
Said Fletcher: "We'll see what this means. There's no reason to be overly down about it. Every team goes through this. We'll just have to deal with it."
I will be on KFAN on Wednesday from 9:55 a.m.-10:35 a.m. and also at 5:15 p.m.