A funny thing happened to the New Jersey Devils on the way to the playoffs – they lost four-games in a row. But, thanks to a special performance by their captain Zach Parise, the streak is over.
Parise picked up his second career hat trick while his teammates and goalie Johan Hedberg did the rest in a 5-0 rout over the streaking Washington Capitals. The win pushed the Devils back into sixth in the Eastern Conference thanks in part to Parise and Ottawa’s loss to Chicago.
Leave it to the captain to be the one to pull his team out of their season-long funk. His three-goal performance on Friday night added another feather to his already full cap. Yet again proving why New Jersey must do what it takes to retain their leader long-term.
Parise picked up goals 25,26 and 27 to recapture his rightful position as the Devils leading goal scorer, leaping past Ilya Kovalchuk and David Clarkson, who both have 25.
The timing of Parise offensive outburst could not have been better timed. The Devils had lost a bit of their swagger in dropping consecutive games to the Canucks, Lightning, Rangers and Bruins.
The Devils four losses came in a span of just seven nights, losing 2-1 at home to the Canucks, 4-3, then to the Lightning two days later, 1-0 to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden a night after that and 4-3 in overtime to the Bruins in Boston Thursday night.
But, Parise single-handedly put the team on HIS back as if to say, “Hold on…I got this.” As fantastic as Kovalchuk has been and great a leader and locker-room guy he has proven to be – the Devils are still Zach’s team.
His performance also knocked the breath out of the Devils doubters and there are many of them.
It’s just one game but for me it speaks volumes to the type of player Parise is. He comes to the rink ready to play and quietly goes about his business as the team’s heart, soul and their most important player.
He consistently makes his mark on the score sheet but never does it in a flamboyant or disrespectful manner. His peers hold him in high regard and when the Devils needed him the most he showed them the way.
The losing streak is over and in fact we can now look back on the last two games and say New Jersey secured three of a possible four points against two good hockey teams.
A friend of mine reminded me that I had been critical of Parise a couple of month’s ago and I even went as far as to say I wasn’t a fan of his. Well…I was wrong. The New Jersey Devils NEED Zach Parise. They have to resign him and build around him and Kovalchuk.
The pieces are in place right at this moment. It’s up to Devils management to keep it that way. I can see the headline already after he resigns, “The Sweet Life of Zach and Kovy.”
Here is a video of all three Parise goals in case you missed them…
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