Few players — especially lately, it seems — get mugged as frequently as Zach Parise does around the opposing net.
Yet for some reason, despite being one of the NHL’s hardest-working players and coming off a season-ending back injury, referees don’t protect the Wild veteran as much as some inside the Wild organization believe they should.
Parise, to his credit, just shrugs off the abuse he receives and even kidded with referee Ian Walsh on Saturday night against Nashville that if defenseman Ryan Ellis can get away with inflicting him with “six shots, I should be able to give one.”
Instead, Parise was escorted to the penalty box after retaliating against Ellis.
“That’s the part I don’t understand,” Parise said. “You go there, defensively they can give you five, six, seven cross-checks in the back, but the second you turn around and give them one, you’re going. It’s always been like that. I don’t understand why.
“It gets frustrating. It’s almost like when there’s a rebound there, pretty much anything goes. So a guy can just come at you from 5 feet and cross-check you across the numbers and you can’t do anything. You can’t even protect yourself.”
Parise has drawn 13 penalties this season and is fourth on the Wild with 1.03 penalties drawn per 60 minutes of ice time.
Yet Parise is usually a player who takes the beating, gets up and doesn’t even look at the referee. He often just plays on, and he picked up his 14th goal of the season in the third period against the Blackhawks on Tuesday night by redirecting a Marco Scandella shot in front of the net.
“Sometimes you hit your boiling point, but [officials] get yelled out a lot in a game,” Parise said. “I’ve never seen them change their mind because someone’s yelling at them. And I get along with all of them. I have a lot of respect for them, but yeah, sometimes you do want to yell at them.”
Parise said the average Joe has no clue the verbal abuse officials take during a game.
“It’s every time they skate by a bench,” Parise said, laughing hard. “They take a beating. It’s got to be terrible. It’s nonstop — anything, an offside, a penalty, they take a beating.”
George McPhee, the general manager of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights and old boss of Bruce Boudreau, says there’s no doubt his former Washington Capitals coach can get the Wild over the hump this season.
“He’s an amazing guy,” McPhee said. “He has a natural enthusiasm that is really effective with hockey teams. Every day he’s upbeat and positive, and when he pushes, it’s an enthusiastic good push. Players like him. He’s an honest guy, and tactically, he’s a terrific coach.
“Whatever a team’s ceiling is in terms of team performance or individually bringing guys along, he’ll find it.”
McPhee, at last Thursday’s Dallas-Minnesota game, said that when Boudreau was in Washington, he always had an uncanny ability to adjust during the game at the exact moment McPhee thought a player or line wasn’t going properly.
“It just happened in this game, and he flipped [Alex] Tuch and moved up [Jason] Pominville,” McPhee said.
• Defenseman Matt Dumba returned from missing four games because of a knee injury. He was paired with Scandella. Rookie Gustav Olofsson stayed in the lineup next to Jonas Brodin, and Christian Folin and Nate Prosser were scratched.
• As expected, Olofsson and Tyler Graovac were sent to Iowa after the game for the five-day bye to save cap space.
• Mario Lucia, the Wild’s 2011 second-round pick, broke his clavicle in Sunday’s Iowa Wild game. Lucia, who had nine goals and 13 assists in 44 games, is expected to be sidelined six to eight weeks.