Devils go from bad to worse: Zach Parise out three months with torn meniscus

It’s just not the kind of start any team wants to have for their season and for the New Jersey Devils, things are about as bad as they’ve ever been. Not only have the Devils been terrible this year starting off the season with a 3-9-1 record while scoring a league low 20 goals in those 13 games, but now they’ll be without one of the team’s biggest point producers in Zach Parise for the next three months. Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger shares the grim details.

Devils left winger Zach Parise will be sidelined for three months after having surgery today to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee.

Parise was sent home after aggravating the problem during Saturday night’s game in Los Angeles.

This means the Devils will be without Parise until at least early February.

This is a crushing blow for a team that is mired in an abysmal start to the season and with the Devils not finding much good luck on or off the ice, the psychological state of the locker room has to be in disarray. A season that started out with a team that looked set to challenge anyone in the Eastern Conference is now staring some ugly realities in the face. They haven’t been able to score goals, they’ve had a hard time keeping their composure in their own end defensively, and they’ve been bitten ferociously by the injury bug.

What remains curious about this is how Parise stated that he was injured back in August training to get ready for the season. After going through training camp and the early part of the season with a torn meniscus, you can’t help but wonder if either the Devils knew about it or if Parise kept it to himself. If this was discovered sooner, perhaps some time could’ve been saved on getting him back in the lineup.

Parise now joins Brian Rolston and Bryce Salvador on the long term injured reserve, meanwhile they’re also dealing with minor injuries to Anton Volchenkov, Jacob Josefsen, and Matt Corrente. When starters and reserves are all getting banged up, it’s just crushing for a team to fight through and unfortunately the guy stuck taking the heat for all of it is head coach John MacLean. Being a first year coach is tricky enough, getting this sort of mess thrown your way right out of the gate just stinks.

How will the Devils answer the bell after getting the latest and most destructive piece of news will be interesting to watch. The team has looked bad during this terrible start and now that they’ll be without one of the team’s best offensive talents will make for interesting drama in New Jersey. The heat might not be on the players this time around and while Lou Lamoriello’s job is never in doubt, he’s going to take heat from others about this. Even former Devils stud Bobby Holik is being critical of the team, singling out Ilya Kovalchuk’s contract as the source of problems for the team. That’s a bit far fetched for Holik to say, but after everything that went down this summer surrounding Kovalchuk’s negotiations with the Devils, it’s an illogical conclusion many will draw from things.

If there’s ever been anything that fans should know by now through all this, however, it’s to never doubt the Devils. If they can get back on track and deal with the next three months and get Parise back in the lineup to give the team a lift while they’re treading water, does anyone actually doubt whether or not the Devils can make the playoffs again? I didn’t think so. Until then, the Devils mettle is going to be tested in a major way.

The Buzzer: Night of the goalies

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Players of the Night:

Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning: The Lightning needed Vasilevskiy to play like the NHL All-Star that he is and that’s exactly what he gave them, stopping 40 shots to help the Lightning to a 2-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The win was important for Tampa, who regained the top spot in the NHL standings and ended a three-game slide in the process. Vasilevskiy’s league-leading seventh shutout of the season ties a franchise record.

Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings: Mrazek fielded 37 shots from the New Jersey Devils on Monday night and handled each and every one of them for his second shutout in as many starts.

Nick Cousins, Arizona Coyotes: Cousins got the ball rolling for the Desert Dogs in the first period, giving them a 1-0 lead. After the Islanders tied the game in the third, Cousins put the final stamp on the game with a goal 2:21 into overtime to give Arizona their second straight win.

Comeback of the Night:

Jason Zucker, Minnesota Wild: Zucker got drilled in the head with a slap shot in the first period and had to be helped off the ice. Miraculously, Zucker returned a short time later and went on to score the game-winning goal at the 4:59 mark of the third period, breaking a 1-1 tie in the Wild’s 3-1 win against the Ottawa Senators.

Highlights of the Night:

Granlund and Dumba:

Mrazek made plenty of saves on Monday and perhaps none better than this one (Brian Boyle‘s reaction is priceless):

Ottawa Senators fans will like this, even if the end result wasn’t great:

Auston Matthews had the celebration of the night:

Factoids of the Night:

Scores:

Avalanche 4, Maple Leafs 2

Red Wings 3, Devils 0

Wild 3, Senators 1

Lightning 2, Blackhawks 0

Sabres 2, Flames 1 (OT)

Coyotes 3, Islanders 2 (OT)


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Lightning end three-game skid with 2-0 win over Blackhawks

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Jon Cooper called declared that his team was “out of sync” prior to Monday night’s game in Chicago.

It’s three words that haven’t been used at all this season to describe the Tampa Bay Lightning who, up until Sunday, was known as the best team in the NHL.

The Lightning came into Monday night nursing a three-game losing streak, another foreign concept for a team saw four of its players elected to the NHL’s All-Star Game this coming weekend.

But just as quickly as they dropped out of the top spot in the NHL — the Vegas Golden Knights assumed that throne for 24 hours after a win on Sunday night — the Lightning snatched it back in a 2-0 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Monday.

For a team that perhaps forgot how to play with one another, they looked comfortable in each other’s company against the Blackhawks.

The game was tight for the most part, and it took the Blackhawks being caught napping shorthanded to break a 0-0 deadlock late in the second period as Chris Kunitz took advantage of a defensive mishap. 

Jake Dotchin’s wrister sailed wide, but Kunitz was allowed to waltz behind the net, pick up the loose puck and put it behind Jeff Glass, nearly untouched through the whole process.

The NHL’s top goalie once again lived up to the distinction as Andrei Vasilevskiy turned aside all 40 shots that came his way.

The Blackhawks put up 10 or more shots in each of the game’s three periods, including 17 in the second frame. But the All-Star netminder played and exceptional game, including stopping 10 out of 10 on the power play to keep Chicago 0-for-6 on the power play.

Yanni Gourde sealed the game late in the third with a blast to make it 2-0.

It’s a win Tampa needed, especially after finding out they’ll miss forward Ondrej Palat indefinitely.

The struggles continued for the Blackhawks, meanwhile.

Chicago has now been shutout twice in their past three games and is on a three-game skid with a 4-5-1 record in their past 10.

The Lightning could afford their losing streak. They’ve earned an opportunity to slide a little bit.

For the Blackhawks, another loss means another chance missed trying to survive in a deeply competitive Central Division.

The Blackhawks are hanging by a thread and time is running out quickly.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Colorado Avalanche’s win streak hits double digits

Associated Press
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The streak is now in double digits.

The Colorado Avalanche won their 10th straight game on Monday night, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2.

Yes, that’s 10 wins by the team that ended last season with an NHL-worst 48 points.

Hockey is wonderful, isn’t it?

The Avalanche have been pretty darn good during that streak, outscoring opponents 41-16 during that span. Scoring four goals per game on average will win you more than it won’t.

And the Avs have had success on the back end. Jonathan Bernier has been completely lights out during the streak. He is on a streak of his own with nine straight wins, becoming the third netminder in franchise history to win nine in a row after Stephane Fiset (9) and Patrick Roy (11).

Colorado’s streak is also an NHL-best this season and it’s the second longest streak in Avs history (they won 12 straight during the 1998-99 season).

The Avs are sitting on 57 points, good for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

Jason Zucker takes a puck to the head (video)

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How in the world did he get up?

Too many players have been getting drilled in the head lately by slap shots. It’s an ugly site to behold whenever it happens

Somehow, however, Jason Zucker of the Minnesota Wild was able to pop right back up and head directly to the dressing room. No passing GO on this one.

The puck hit him so squarely in the helmet that it ricocheted back toward the Thomas Chabot, who uncorked the shot in the first place.

Even more insane is that Zucker was able to return to the game.

Talk about hard-headed.