Zach Parise once again showed why he is expected to be the hottest commodity on the free agent market this summer.
In the first period of Monday’s crucial Game 4 against the Rangers, the explosive Devils winger made a nifty move around defenceman Michael Del Zotto then a perfect, touch-pass to Travis Zajac to successfully complete a 2-on-1. The goal gave New Jersey against a 2-0 lead, and against the punchless Rangers, it would be more than enough.
Just to be sure, Parise scored early in the third, then added another into an empty net, to ensure the teams would be going back to Madison Square Garden tied 2-2 in the best-of-seven, Eastern Conference final.
Parise may only have 12 points in 16 playoff games, but the 27-year-old is a strong threat every time he’s on the ice. During the second intermission, Hockey Night in Canada’s P.J. Stock isolated on one of his 41-second (average length) shifts.
“If you’re a coach, you’re drooling over this,” said Stock. “This is everything you want. And it’s from your best player. Give me everything you possibly have and get off the ice.”
A few days ago, former-NHLer J.P. Parise stirred some ashes when he said his son would be a good fit with the Rangers, mostly because of a relationship he formed with New York coach John Tortorella at the 2010 Winter Games.
“Zach likes Torts a lot,” J.P. told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Zach knows how to work, he doesn’t shy away from the discipline part of it. He’d fit right in there.”
Of course, Parise would fit right in anywhere. But while J.P. has since backed off the “traitorous” remarks - and Zach has refused to comment - it is totally conceivable that he ends up pulling on a Blueshirt.
Parise made $6 million this season. With Brad Richards getting a nine-year, $58.5 million free agent contract from the Rangers last summer that averages out at $6.66 mil per, Parise is worth at least $8 million a season.
Had he been testing the market last July 1, the Rangers would have almost certainly nabbed him. And in that case, I’d say they’d be in control of this series - except the Devils probably wouldn’t even be here without Parise.
STARTS AND STOPS: You could have done worse than to pick Martin Brodeur even in playoff pools that don’t count goalie wins or shutouts. With his fourth assist of this post-season (and 13th in his playoff career), the Devils ‘tender not only set a new NHL for masked men but also moved into a tie for 11th in team scoring .... Don Cherry was right on about the Rangers first period play during Coaches Corner. “To come out and play like this in the Stanley Cup semi-finals is unbelievable,” he said. .... Shouldn’t Ilya Kovalchuk be suspended for spearing Ryan Callahan in (or near) the jewels? Never mind that it wasn’t a full forced jab. I’d rather get a Brandon Prust elbow in the back of the head ... If Peter DeBoer and John Tortorella ever do get their hands on each other, my money is on DeBoer ... Good coaching move by DeBoer, replacing Petr Sykora with Jacob Josefson. The 21-year old former first rounder didn’t get an assist on the first goal, but his hustle and hard work helped make it happen.
THINGS THAT MAKE YOU GO HMMM..: Of the numerous New York giveaways, CBC’s Glenn Healy quipped: “I haven’t seen gifting like since Montreal traded (Scott) Gomez for (Ryan) McDonagh.” Okay, so what if Montreal actually traded McDonagh to the Rangers for McDonagh in a seven-player deal, and that the Habs can only wish the swap went down the way Healy had it. The line was still almost a good one .. The latest to visit Tortorella’s doghouse is Del Zotto. Seemed like just yesterday he was one of the Rangers unsung heros ... When MacLean reminded Cherry of a story from the coach’s past, Grapes looked surprised. “You remember that?” he said. “I told ya that when we were drinking.” And in hockey circles, what goes on in the bar is supposed to stay in the bar ... I’d say somebody is going to make Mike Rupp pay for taking a shot at Brodeur next game, except I’ve stood next to Rupp when he’s on skates and in his gear. And he is a big, scary looking dude.
BETWEEN PERIODS: Even as a junior, defenceman Bryce Salvador rarely scored. In his best season of five with the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, he had eight goals. And he had none, to go with nine assists, in 35 playoff games. Now he has 10 points, along with three goals, in 16 games for the Devils during this post-season. Off the top of my head I remember two of those goals, and both were soft, seeing-eye wrist shots from the point - including the all-important first goal Monday ... Elliotte Friedman told Salvador that even his teammates were joking that his production could be attributed to the fact that this is a contract year for the blue liner. Salvador made $2.9 million this season an, at 36 years of age, I can’t imagine him getting much more from anybody else ... Carl Hagelin came the closest to beating Brodeur in the first with a shot off the post. The young Swede also took back-to-back penalties later in the game. “He’s lucky he’s a long ways from John Tortorella,” Jim Hughson said after Haglin’s second.