Following Wild games, Managing Editor Mike Doyle will give the Five Takeaways that he remembers from the contest. Tonight, he looks back at a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils:
The Devils ruined a few comebacks for the Wild tonight.
To start, it was Zach Pairse’s first game back in New Jersey since signing with Minnesota on July 4, 2012 (we’ll get to that, a couple of times). While it was nice to see Parise score, it would’ve been a lot nicer to come away with a win in his return. The Devils also spoiled the Wild’s two-goal comeback to force overtime.
After falling into a 2-0 hole, after two forgettable periods, the Wild had a short memory and came out firing, eventually forcing overtime with three third-period goals. After Parise got things going on the power play, Mikael Granlund scored from an impossible angle and Matt Cooke redirected a Marco Scandella point shot. It looked like it would be an epic comeback, but Andy Greene ruined everything by scoring in overtime. However, Minnesota can be happy that it came away with a point on the third night of a four game road trip.
Before signing with the Wild as a free agent, Parise was in the organization for seven years, scoring 410 points (194-216=410). In his final season with the Devils, he captained the team to the Stanley Cup Final. Obviously disappointing for the Devils, Parise has been as advertised in Minnesota. Day in and day out he’s one of the hardest workers you’ll ever see, pushes his teammates and always has time to answer questions from the media (you might not think it’s that important, but we appreciate it). Oh yeah, and he produces, tonight scoring his 24th of the season. With the goal, Parise has at least one point in 13 of his last 16 games, totaling 19 points (9-10=19) during the stretch.
The return visit was nearly two years in the making. Some forget that Parise’s return was supposed to be a lot sooner than tonight. Before the NHL Lockout wiped out half of last season, the schedule had the Wild traveling to New Jersey early in the year. There was vitriol pointed towards Parise tonight (we’ll get to that), but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it could’ve been if the contest was played only a few months removed from the Stanley Cup loss. Just remember time heals wounds, Devils fans.
Towards the end of the first period, Nate Prosser was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for elbowing Tim Sestito. On the play, Sestito was charging in on the forecheck and Prosser in the corner retrieving the puck. Prosser turned and at the last moment saw Sestito. Prosser braced for the hit and Sestito got the worst of it. The Devils forward was down on the ice for several seconds and had to be helped off by teammates.
After watching the replay, Prosser shouldn’t be suspended and probably shouldn’t have been assessed a five minute major (if a minor at all). This play definitely falls under the “defensive contact to the head” category. Prosser’s left hand was already up and cocked as he was playing the puck and Sestito practically ran into it. His momentum swung him around and his head snapped back violently. Feet from the play, the lead official, Dan O’Rourke, didn’t raise his arm to call a penalty. However, after Sestito was helped off the ice, Prosser was given a major and the gate.
Sometimes in the Takeaways we have to give credit where credit is due. I know I’ve written about my childhood memories of Jaromir Jagr, but, honestly, the guy had to have found the fountain of youth at some point. The 42-year-old scored his 23rd goal of the season on a one-time bomb on the power play. Jagr has 60 points this season to lead the Devils, by a wide margin. At 42. Ridiculous.
If you were going to create a perfect hockey player, I think that you take Jagr’s ability to hold off defenders while making plays in high-traffic areas. Twice, late in the third and in overtime, Jagr had a Wild defender draped all over him and he was able to get a wraparound attempt from behind the net. When shielding the puck, he has the vision, skill and patience to make plays other NHLers can’t when they have all the time in the world. Oh yeah, and he’s 42 in case you didn’t see it the first or second time I mentioned it.
Coming into tonight’s game a storyline—if you can call it that—was whether or not Devils fans would boo Parise (Yeah, I know. We need to come up with better things to talk about). Still, it was a question. Well, of course the Jersey faithful booed. They would have had their fan card pulled if they didn’t. Honestly, for better or worse, it’s pretty much become protocol for NHL fans to boo star players who left in free agency.
Okay, I get it. You want to show your displeasure that your favorite player spurned your favorite team. Fine. Boo. I’m just surprised that there are people out there who will boo EVERY time that player, regardless if it is Parise in New Jersey or Ryan Suter in Nashville, touches the puck. This behavior seems a little excessive, but, then again, fan is derived from fanatic.