'Devils In The Details'
By Sean Hartnett
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Anyone who has covered the New Jersey Devils since Zach Parise's 2005 debut will tell you that he's one of the most accommodating, generous and thoughtful players. In a league full of good guys, Parise ranks near the top of the list of most accessible players.
He'll usually sit at his locker stall for great lengths answering questions in great detail. If he doesn't remember a particular play or moment in the game, he'll apologize and answer it to the best of his knowledge.
Parise takes his responsibilities as captain seriously whether it's on the ice, off the ice or in the locker room. He understands his part in raising hockey's profile and is genuine in his dealings with the media.
The only question I've ever heard him not respond to was an uncalled-for question about the possibility of joining the rival New York Rangers as a free agent while the Devils are tangled in the middle of a heated series against the Blueshirts.
When Parise refused to speak to the entire media following the Devils shutout loss on Saturday, it was probably for a good reason. After Sunday's practice, Parise explained his reasons for ducking the media following the Game 3 defeat.
"I was upset with the way the game went," Parise said after Sunday's practice. "That was it. I feel like I've done a pretty good job for almost 100 games this year. I figured if I took one night off (from speaking to the media) I'd be okay."
He added, "I probably would have said something I regretted."
Parise has gone five consecutive games without a goal and is a negative -4 through the first three games of Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.
He knows he must raise his game and do his part in getting the Devils' woeful 1-for-12 powerplay back on track.
"Of course you'd like to find the score sheet here and there, but I feel like I'm making the right plays out there," Parise told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger on Monday. "The pucks are going to go in. We just have to bear down a little bit on the chances."
Parise is the heartbeat of the Devils and I don't expect his offensive slump to continue for much longer. You can't keep a player with his combination of desire and all-around ability down for very long.
His legs are always in a state of constant motion as he darts across the ice. Parise's work-rate is unquestioned.
He closes down his opponents on the forecheck like a wild, unchained dog as he attempts to regain possession. Parise leaves it all on the ice and does whatever it takes for the Devils' cause while playing larger than his 5'11", 195 pound frame suggests.
I expect Parise to respond with desperation tonight as the Devils look to avoid the prospect of going back the enemy territory of Madison Square Garden down 3-1.
He's the kind of player who embraces the pressure. Right now, he's taking part in the biggest playoff series of his career but has a flair for the dramatic. We all remember how inspirational he was during Team USA's run to the silver medal during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Parise scored the tying goal to force overtime in the Gold Medal Game against the highly-favored Canadians under the harshest of atmospheres in front of a crowd that was probably near 80% Canadian.
Now he has the chance to be the inspiration for the Devils' comeback.
Arise and deliver, captain.
Will Parise and the Devils come alive in Game 4? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.
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