NEWARK, N.J. -- When told that linemate Dainius Zubrus referred to him as "a little energy ball" following a herculean effort in Game 4 against the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils captain Zach Parise shook his head and began laughing.
He also had this response following his team's 40-minute practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion on Wednesday.
"How do I describe Zubie?" Parise asked, tongue in cheek. "How about, dead weight."
Obviously, Parise and Zubrus are having a little fun at a time when the tension heading into a critical Game 5 at Madison Square Garden can be cut with a knife. But keeping it loose and fun is important this time of the season.
Still, it's hard to ignore the impact that Parise had alongside center Travis Zajac and Zubrus in Game 4. In addition to generating nine of the team's 30 shots, the trio produced three goals, five points and a combined plus-1 rating in a 4-1 victory.
As expected, the line will remain intact for Game 5.
"You know how [Zubrus] will play every game, you know he'll play hard and know he will protect the puck down low," Parise said. "You know he's not going to do anything fancy, but that's a good thing. He's going to play up and down and play smart. He's low-risk, and I think that's an easy guy to play with. You know what you're going to get, and you can predict what he's going to do with the puck."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale