Zach Parise will be in the Minnesota Wild lineup this afternoon when they play host to the league-leading Nashville Predators.
The Wild forward sat at his family home and watched as his teammates fell 4-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday – less than 24 hours after the death of his father.
“My wife told me, ‘You have to go to the rink,’ ” Parise said Friday. ” ‘You have to go and practice and get away and try and get back into the groove of things.’ It was important for me to get back.”
Parise has 14 and 30 points in 32 games this season to go along with a plus-7 rating while averaging nearly 20 minutes a night in ice time.
The 30-year-old plans to travel with the team on the upcoming road trip, which includes stops in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The funeral for J.P. Parise will be held next Friday.
“It’s great to have him back in the lineup,” said Mike Yeo. “And it’s better to have him around in the locker room and around all of us. With Zach, even though his heart and mind is obviously on dealing with this terrible thing, I know he will pour his heart and soul into helping our hockey team win.
“That’s just the kind of character he is. And, hopefully, when he comes to the rink, we can offer him something that helps the whole process.”
With Parise returning, he isn’t expected to re-join his line of Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville. Jason Zucker has replaced Parise on that line for two games and the trio has seen some chemistry despite consecutive losses.
“That line has been too good to break up,” Yeo said. “We’ll see if Zach coming in can strengthen one of the other lines, and [if] we can keep that line going the same. We would be a better team for that.”
Nashville has won the only meeting between the two clubs this season using overtime to defeat the Wild 6-5 on Dec. 20.