There is no player on the Devils roster, excluding Martin Brodeur, that is more valuable than Zach Parise. As good as Brodeur is and as talented as Patrik Elias can be when he decides to turn his game on, no skater is more important than Parise.
This team will only go as far as Zach Parise will take them. Sure, the Devils went 9-3 in a miraculously high total of 12 games without a goal for the North Dakota product, but when mid-April arrives, Parise will be counted on to lead the offensive charge.
In last year’s playoff catastrophe against Carolina, Parise racked up a goal and an assist in both Game 1 and Game 3, which went hand-in-hand with Devils victories. In Games 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7, Parise tallied no goals and one assist and New Jersey went 1-4 in those games. In a series as tight as the series with Carolina was, just one more goal from Parise could have prevented the Game 7 meltdown. As Parise goes, so do the Devils.
That’s why it was so important for Parise to end his goaless drought and score two goals in New Jersey’s 3-2 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers last night at The Rock. Parise registered 10 assists in the 12 games he did not score but the Devils rely on Parise’s to put the puck in the net, not pass it. He is a top 5 talent in the NHL whose work ethic is unmatched.
He told The Record’s Tom Gulitti how great it was that he didn’t have to answer questions about the streak any longer.
“I take a lot of pride in the way I play and scoring goals and of course it starts to bother you after a while. But, I felt like I was playing well the whole time. That wasn’t the issue. I felt like I was playing well and contributing and pucks just weren’t going in. Tonight, I got two opportunities where I had better opportunities throughout and tonight they went in and other nights they didn’t. Hopefully, they keep going in,” he said.
The Devils know they will be in the playoffs cone April. It’ll be up to Parise to lead them once they get there.