Getting Hotter for the Devils, And Not in a Good Way
The New Jersey Devils really have their fingers crossed now.
Of all the bad things that have happened to the Devs this season, including a 3-8-1 start, the loss of centre Zach Parise for a considerable period of time would be nigh on catastrophic.
Parise left a game against L.A. during the second period on Saturday with a mysterious leg injury and not only didn't return, he flew home on a red eye flight and will be further examined today. Parise told reporters he didn't actually suffer a specific injury in a collision with Kyle Clifford of the Kings, but instead aggravated a problem he's had since August.
Which explains a few things, including why, along with every other member of the Devils, Parise has been off to such a rotten start (three goals, three assists) in a year that is critical to him as he heads for restricted free agency next summer.
It isn't just that Parise hasn't been scoring; he hasn't had that on-ice effervescence and energy that has marked his rise into one of the premier forwards in the game. Without much explanation, the funk he was in seemed somehow due to the arrival of another big gun in town — Ilya Kovalchuk — but it's now clear that he's been hobbled the entire season and quite possibly shouldn't have been playing at all.
Until now, injuries have almost been good news for the Devils, as they've prevented the club from having to make some very difficult payroll choices, with the Kovalchuk acquisition having put them well over the cap. It was that way with Brian Rolston and Anton Volchenkov, but losing Parise is an entirely different deal. That said, speculation had already begun as to how Jersey will be able to get Parise under contract next summer with its payroll already stretched awkwardly to fit Kovalchuk and others.
Parise won't play tonight in Vancouver, obviously. The way he was being quoted in the New Jersey papers today, it sure sounded a lot more like a groin or abdominal problem than a knee or hip, but that will likely become clearer in the next day or so.
The Devils go in to play the Canucks tonight 30th overall, 30th in goals scored, 25th in goals against, 30th on the power play and without a single player with more than three goals or seven points. Only four players on the roster are plus players, and two of the club's three wins have come on Martin Brodeur shutouts.
One other note, a non-hockey one. I'll be joining the cause for prostate cancer awareness this month as part of the growing Movember campaign by growing a moustache. Wish me luck. Haven't had one for about 25 years, so I'll be hoping for something tidy along the lines of a Ron Burgundy number. We'll see how it goes.
To support Movember, you can challenge friends and family to don a 'stache, and donations are welcome at www.movember.com.