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Parise, Salvador to return Friday

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Salvador has missed just three games this season.
Zach Parise and Bryce Salvador said they will be back in the lineup on Friday, when the Devils host Nashville.

Parise said he was feeling better after sitting out Wednesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to Philadelphia. Parise had played in 187 straight games since the flu kept him out of the lineup on Dec. 23, 2007 at Calgary.

“It’s something you take a lot of pride in, playing all the time,” Parise said Thursday. “When it gets to the point when you physically can’t play, it (stinks) but you just can’t do anything about it. You never want to miss a game.”

Parise skated in Wednesday’s pre-game warmups but left the ice early with an upper body injury he suffered Monday in Philly.

Salvador came out of Wednesday’s game after taking a stick in the face during the first period. He said his vision was temporarily blurred, although tests showed no eye damage. Feeling that he might have dodged a bullet, the ninth-year NHLer expects to permanently start wearing a visor.

“Talk to anybody and they have their nicks and stuff like that, but that was the first time I really felt something hit my eye, per se,” Salvador said. “To come out of that scot-free; everyone likes to gamble here and there, but I don’t think I’m going to play that one anymore.”

He has never worn a visor for any extended period of time in the NHL.

“It’s just something that I’m accustomed to not really wearing,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a macho thing or whatever it is. You’re seeing more and more. The percentage of people wearing visors now is just growing and growing. Kids going into the minors now have to wear visors, and so you’re just seeing that trend. The game, not that it wasn’t fast before, but it just seems like things are happening so quick out there that you can’t react. For me to have that like nothing happened, I think it’s a pretty good warning.”

Salvador has already seen a visorless teammate’s career shortened by injury. He was a member of the Blues in January 2001 when Al MacInnis took a high-stick in the eye that left him with a permanent blind spot and, eventually, a detached retina. MacInnis, a Hall of Famer, finished up his NHL career wearing a visor.

“I was there when it happened to him and that basically knocked years off his career,” Salvador said. “There’s lots of examples. I don’t think it’s a widespread thing by any means, but when it does happen, you don’t get that second chance. I think I’m pretty fortunate. A lot of people get nicks and stuff like that.”

Jacques Lemaire is in favor of the face protection.

“If the player sees well with it, I think they all should wear it,” Lemaire said. “If you see well and it doesn’t bother you, I think they should all wear it because of the flying pucks, flying sticks. It’s a dangerous game.”

Salvador believes attitudes on visors have shifted over the years, especially for physical players.

“You’re just seeing a lot more guys wear visors just for that reason,”  You’re really coming down to prolonging your career, not that you weren’t thinking about that before, but the younger kids are coming in with them on and that culture’s really changing. You see guys that wear physical games, and they’re wearing visors. It’s a smart thing to do.”

The Devils (36-20-3) are winless in three straight (0-2-1). But with two games remaining before the two-week Olympic break, they hope to break out of the funk that has seen them drop 11 of their last 15. Lemaire decided not to hold a practice on Thursday, allowing the players a day to physically and mentally regroup during a stretch of six games in nine days that ends Saturday in Carolina.

One good performance could be enough to show Lemaire that his team is back on track.

“One could do it,” he said. “And as soon as possible.”

Maybe a rest day is just the ticket. The players had an off-ice workout, and Lemaire hopes that a day without sticks and pucks might have a rejuvenating effect for the Devils with 23 games left in the regular season.

“At the time they need that,” he said. “Just to say, ‘You’re not going on the ice,’ your mind changes.”

He ruled out making it an optional skate because some players need to be told to take the day off.

“It’s how you feel,” Lemaire. “Let’s say you feel that a guy has been working really hard and he’s a guy that usually wants to go on for optionals. I know I’ve done that with (Vladimir) Zharkov. I’ve said, ‘You, I don’t want you on the ice.’ I did that with Bergy (Niclas Bergfors) when he was here. These kids, you could see they were tired because they were here since training camp before the other guys. Most of the optionals, they were on the ice pretty much every day. So at a time, you have to tell them, ‘Hey, you’re not going on.’ Usually, they ask why. ‘Well, you need a rest, that’s why.’”

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