GLENDALE, ARIZ. – Last weekend after a home shutout of the Colorado Avalanche, Mike Yeo declared that even though Zach Parise hadn’t scored in the game, he was “coming.”
He assisted on Matt Dumba’s winning goal and it was by far the best Parise had played since returning from a knee injury earlier than expected Nov. 27. The next game, Monday at Colorado, Parise scored his first goal since Oct. 25 and had five of the Wild’s 20 shots.
“You don’t just step back in and be right where you expect to be,” Yeo said. “… When you’re out of the lineup, the league keeps getting faster. So plays are developing quickly.”
That’s why Yeo said fans saw Parise having trouble with his execution when it came to pucks bouncing off his stick and uncharacteristic turnovers those first couple games back.
Former Wild sniper Brian Rolston, Parise’s friend and former teammate from New Jersey, has been there.
“When you’re off for that long of time, it takes you like two weeks to get back,” Rolston said during a recent phone interview. “Your nervous system and the speed of the game, it takes you a long time. When you’re playing, you’re in such a rhythm with the game. Once you get out of that rhythm, it takes awhile.
“Sometimes [Marian Gaborik] would come back and he’d light it up. But only certain guys can do that and be right back where they were. Zach is a hard-working guy who plays with pace, so it would naturally take him a few weeks like most of us.”
Parise said it was rewarding scoring Monday, but, “I felt like I was playing well the last few games. Score or not, I felt like I’ve been playing some good hockey. I think our line [with Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville] has generated a lot of good chances, making good plays and supporting each other.”
With the Wild’s power play in a 6-for-45 funk the previous 14 games and 1-for-16 the previous six, Yeo altered the No. 1 unit against Arizona.
Pominville, a righthanded shot, moved to the half wall and lefthanded Granlund was moved to the second unit. Lately, Granlund has been pushed down the wall and forced into turnovers or simply hasn’t shot enough.
Also, Yeo felt Parise and Ryan Suter were getting too close, so the two were to move a couple feet further from the Coyotes’ net to become greater scoring threats. “I liked what we saw in practice,” Yeo said.
On the ice for losses
In three consecutive overtime losses before Friday’s OT loss to Arizona, captain Mikko Koivu and Suter had been on the ice for the game-losing goals.
Monday in Denver, Suter logged 67 seconds on the shift when John Mitchell ended things. Koivu logged 49 seconds on the losing goal Monday. It was Koivu who lost his coverage on the Mitchell goal.
“We had good pressure, good chances,” Suter said. “That’s what 3-on-3 hockey is. They got a little separation and were able to score. We had a couple Grade A chances. That’s what it is, it’s back and forth.” Added Koivu, “That’s overtime 3-on-3. If you don’t score, usually the other team will.