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Parise Ready to Hit Reset Button on Season

Veteran forward has battled injury, illness through first month

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

ST. PAUL -- The 2016-17 regular season is still young, but Wild forward Zach Parise is ready to hit the reset button. 

It's been a frustrating start to the campaign for the veteran winger, who went five games without a goal to start the season, buried a pair of goals Oct. 23, then played in two more games before a lower-body injury kept him out of the lineup for more than two weeks.

He returned on Tuesday in a 1-0 loss to Calgary and played Thursday in a one-goal win over Boston, but missed Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche with an illness.

Parise revealed Sunday he was battling a nasty case of strep throat, something that sapped him of his energy on Friday and prevented him from playing Saturday.

The good news? Parise was back at practice Sunday at Xcel Energy Center before the team departed to Dallas for Monday's game against the Stars at the American Airlines Center.

"[It] kind of knocked me out for a couple of days, but hopefully everything is on the way up now," Parise said. "[I'm feeling] a lot better today than yesterday and the day before. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and we can just move past it."

Parise has six points in 10 games played but between the injury, illness and inconsistent play to begin the season, he hasn't been able to get in a groove just yet.

"It's been a tough start to the year but I'm hoping that, tomorrow, just kinda start over, start the season over and go from there. Just for me personally, I'm hoping that all that stuff is just going to be in the past."

The same could be said for the Wild, which has struggled in recent games to put the puck in the net. 

It caused coach Bruce Boudreau to shake up his groupings, putting Mikael Granlund on a line with Parise and Eric Staal.

It's the first time this season Granlund will be separated from countryman Mikko Koivu and one of the few times Charlie Coyle has been taken off Staal's line. 

"I just think it's, some guys were getting stale with some of the linemates, I don't know," Boudreau said. "We scored three goals against Pittsburgh (Nov. 10, excluding a late empty-net goal), before that, it was 4-nothing against Buffalo (Oct. 27) was the last time we scored more than two goals in a game. I'm a pretty patient guy when it comes to line matchups or line making, but I thought we could give this one a try and see where it leads."

One thing is clear: Boudreau is losing his patience with the lack of offense and is ready to see his club break out.

"I didn't talk to them last night; I let my feelings be known a little bit this morning, but they're men, they got up, they went out there and worked," Boudreau said. "Sometimes, you don't always like to hear what you're gonna hear, but at the same time, a true, good athlete and the good team guys take it and go out there work, and that's what they did."

Moving on up

Tyler Graovac scored a highlight-reel goal in the second period on Saturday and was rewarded for his good play later in the game by getting more playing time.

On Sunday, Graovac found himself skating on a line with Koivu and Coyle, a grouping which should get him additional playing time. 

"When he's skating, he's a pretty good player," Boudreau said. "He's a big-bodied guy that can do a lot of good things. He's got as many goals as at least half the guys on the team in limited time, so I thought, 'Let's see what he can do in a little bit more time.'"

Graovac said he's eager for the opportunity to see more ice time and show off some of his skilled game.

"That was one of my biggest adjustments," Graovac said. "The role I was playing, you have to pick your spots, playing that bottom-line role. It's all about getting it deep, getting momentum for the next line. For me, being on [the Koivu] line, I want to pick my spots still, but at the same time, I'm playing with two offensive players who can really battle and win a lot of pucks for you. I want to support them as best I can."

Scandella getting close

Wild defenseman Marco Scandella was on the ice practicing with the group again on Sunday. He's not eligible to return to the lineup until Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets, but the fact he's been back and hasn't had any issues is a good sign that he could return when he's due.

"It's really good that he's been able to get a few practices; that really helps," Boudreau said. "He'll get a good skate tomorrow, a good skate Tuesday and hopefully, he'll be ready for Wednesday."

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