As the Minnesota Wild closes out its three-game road trip, the big story line is Zach Parise’s return to New Jersey to face his former team, the Devils. Wild.com ran a feature on Parise’s return including a WildTV video, here, so we won’t get into it in the Lighthouse. However, WildTV will post the video from Parise’s media scrum, which was thicker than New Jersey Turnpike traffic.
On the ice, the Wild is coming off a one-sided win over the New York Islanders, 6-0, on Tuesday. In that game, Mikko Koivu became the franchise’s all-time points leader (tomorrow Wild.com will post an exclusive Q & A with the Minnesota captain) with three assists. Koivu found himself with a new winger, Justin Fontaine, and along with Matt Moulson, the trio clicked.
Of course, Fontaine was a healthy scratch for five games before returning to the lineup in Boston. He then was moved to Koivu’s wing and the center was impressed with his game.
“He sat out for a couple games, so it’s not easy to jump in, but the way he did was very good,” Koivu said. “He’s very smart, so it makes it him easy to play with.”
The 31-year-old said that he and Fontaine talked before the game on Tuesday about different situations, and those conversations have continued into today. While he has been a mentor to many younger players this season, Koivu said that it is a two-way street.
“With their energy and the work ethic they put in, they can help you as well,” Koivu said. Hopefully they’ll have plenty of energy left in the tank to close out the road trip with a bang, playing their third game in four days.
Okay, I lied. Speaking to the media after the skate, Parise said that he’d have nerves in his return tonight. One guy who Parise can turn to advice about returning to his own barn is Ryan Suter, who signed on July 4 along with Parise. Suter has been booed mercilessly each time he’s gone back to play in Nashville.
“There’s nothing you can do to change anybody’s mind,” Suter said about the booing. “Have fun with it. If they boo you, hold onto the puck a little longer.”
The Lighthouse’s advice for Parise: pretend that Bruce Springsteen is in the building. That way they’ll just be saying, “Bruuuuuuuuce,” and requesting “Dancing in the Dark.”
Bryzgalov Back In
In blackjack, you ride the hot hand. The same thought process goes with selecting a starting goaltender, therefore, Ilya Bryzgalov will get the start in net tonight against the Devils.
“I thought that he was very, very good in that game, especially early,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo said about Bryzgalov’s 36-save shutout against the Islanders. “All game long he had a calming presence.”
Defenseman Keith Ballard left the morning skate early and did not return. Yeo said that he suffered a lower-body injury and tried to give it a go this morning. The bench boss wasn’t specific, nor did he say when it happened, but Ballard last played on Monday in Boston, skating in 12:07 TOI.