After being sidelined for the past three weeks, Minnesota Wild left winger Zach Parise could be back in action Friday evening against the Winnipeg Jets.
Parise, 31, hadn’t practiced with the team since spraining his MCL in a Nov. 5 game against the Nashville Predators, but was skating alongside the Wild Thursday ahead of their home contest Friday. According to Wild coach Mike Yeo, Parise had been medically cleared and “if [the Wild] had any kind of concerns or uncertainty then we'd hold him out.”
"Obviously if he's ready to play, then we think we can probably find a place for him in our lineup," Yeo told Wild.com. "Today we just experimented with something, we don't even know if we'll go with that tomorrow or not. Adding one player gives you so many more options.”
Parise said he has felt the change in his health and that when he got on the ice with teammates he didn’t feel out of place, which is a good sign for the Wild.
Minnesota posted a 4-3-1 record in the eight games that Parise has missed. With Parise in the lineup, the Wild are 7-3-2 this season.
There’s no doubt getting the winger back into the lineup would help provide a boost up front and he’ll immediately inject the top six with more scoring punch. Before going down with injury, Parise had scored seven goals and nine points in 12 games. He was on a three-game pointless drought before the injury occurred, however.
Parise has been the most prolific Wild since joining the team in 2012-13. In 201 games, he has notched 87 goals and 165 points. His return would also mean the Wild's eighth-ranked power play gets another weapon back in its arsenal. Since joining the Wild, Parise has been the primary triggerman on the man advantage. Since 2012-13, Parise has 35 on the power play. The next closest Wild players are Jason Pominville and Jared Spurgeon, both of whom have 11.
If Parise makes his return Friday, the timing couldn’t be much better. Five of the next six games for the Wild are against divisional opponents, including games against the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars and a pair against the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota is currently chasing both Chicago and Dallas in the standings, and points within the Central Division are at a premium.