ST. PAUL, Minn. — In what seems like a weekly ritual for at least one member of the Minnesota Wild, another prominent player will play against his former team. This time it's Zach Parise going against the New Jersey Devils.
After Parise signed with the Wild on July 4, 2012, Minnesota and New Jersey did not play during the lockout-shortened season. That means Parise will get his first crack against a number of former friends and teammates Sunday when the Wild host the Devils at Xcel Energy Center.
"It'll be a lot of fun," Parise said. "It'll be a little different playing against those guys, knowing all of them and everything. Playing against them for the first time will be different, but I'm looking forward to it. A little nervous, but I'm looking forward to it."
Parise said it really didn't matter whether the first game against his former team was at home or away.
"Sooner or later, you have to face the music," Parise said. "It would have been nicer to get it out of the way last year, but you know in the back of your mind you have to do it sooner or later."
Minnesota lost 3-2 to the Nashville Predators on Oct. 8 in Ryan Suter's return to Bridgestone Arena. It wasn't Suter's first trip back to Nashville since signing with the Wild the same day as Parise, but it could be a good barometer of what Parise could expect March 20 when the Wild play in Newark.
Minnesota won 2-1 against the Buffalo Sabres on Oct. 14 in Jason Pominville's return to the First Niagara Center. The Wild also won 2-0 at home against the Preds on Oct. 22 in Nashville center Matt Cullen's return to St. Paul.
"Emotionally, it's gotta be difficult, going up against your friends and people you've worked with," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's going to be an emotional night and one that, hopefully, we can help get him through and give him a good chance to succeed, much the same as we saw our guys do for Jason when we were in Buffalo."
Minnesota will be without forward Charlie Coyle, who re-aggravated his knee injury Friday night against the Montreal Canadiens, an injury that cost him 11 games. Yeo said it wasn't too serious and classified him as day-to-day.
"More precautionary than anything else right now," Yeo said. "It's a long season and we don't want to push it."
Carson McMillan was recalled from the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League and will play in his first NHL game of the season. McMillan has two goals and four assists and is a plus-4 in seven games with Iowa this season.
New Jersey did not skate Sunday, but activated goaltender Cory Schneider off injured reserve (groin) and he will start in goal for the Devils. Schneider is 1-3-2 with a 2.14 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage.
The Devils also placed defenseman Peter Harrold on IR with an upper-body injury and called up Jon Merrill from Albany of the AHL. A second-round pick of New Jersey in the 2010 NHL Draft, Merrill will make his NHL debut if he plays.
Travis Zajac (ankle) and Patrik Elias (upper body), neither of whom played Saturday in a 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, did not make the trip.
Here are the projected lineups for the Devils and Wild:
Dainius Zubrus - Andrei Loktionov - Jaromir Jagr
Mattias Tedendy - Adam Henrique - Michael Ryder
Rostislav Olesz - Jacob Josefson - Damien Brunner
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Mark Fayne - Andy Greene
Marek Zidlicky - Adam Larsson
Eric Gelinas - Anton Volchenkov
Scratched: Jon Merrill
Injured: Ryane Clowe (concussion), Bryce Salvador (foot), Peter Harrold (upper body), Travis Zajac (lower body), Patrik Elias (upper body)
Zach Parise - Mikko Koivu - Justin Fontaine
Nino Niederreiter - Mikael Granlund - Jason Pominville
Matt Cooke - Kyle Brodziak - Dany Heatley
Carson McMillan - Zenon Konopka - Torrey Mitchell
Ryan Suter - Jonas Brodin
Marco Scandella - Jared Spurgeon
Clayton Stoner - Keith Ballard
Scratched: Nate Prosser, Matt Dumba
Injured: Charlie Coyle (knee), Mike Rupp (knee)