It’s no secret. In the world of sports, players are going to have hot streaks and cold streaks. Often enough, they offset in a season, so the final product averages out against the other years.
Of course, there’s the exception of the new players who continue to improve before finding a sustainable number that they hit each year.
Ebbs and flows are simply a reality in sports.
Another fact of sports are the “comeback” seasons that some athletes experience. These seasons either spark them back into multiple seasons of increased productivity, or they lead the fan-base to increasing frustration wanting more production from a player that was proven possible, but isn’t being produced.
Minnesota Wild right winger #11 Zach Parise is in the middle of one of those seasons.
Zach Parise‘s Wild Career:
Parise, who signed on with the Wild in 2012, has boasted seasons with 56, 62, 53, 42, and currently 48 points, in seasons where 50 or more games were played. His 22 goals and 26 assists to date put him on pace for 72 points this season. This would be his best season since the 2009-10 season when he played for the New Jersey Devils (and notched a whopping 82). For context, if we were to pro-rate each of these previous season point totals to an 82-game season, here’s what we would come up with: 68, 69, 62, and 48. Perhaps not the worst numbers around the league, but you’d hope for better from one of your top players.
Additionally, last season, of course, in which Parise only played 42 games, he scored 24 points. At an 82-game pace, that would have totaled 46 points (yikes!). He currently stands at 46 points with 29 games left to play in the regular season.
The question all of this begs is why now? Perhaps the answer is simple: he’s shooting more accurately. Last season, Parise played only 42 games due to injury, and shot 12.6% on 173 total shots attempted. In the 2016-2017 season, Parise played 69 games, attempted 300 total shots (194 of them considered on goal) and had an excruciating shot percentage of 9.8. As this season currently stands, Parise, with the Wild having played 56 games, has a 12.4 shot percentage, but that is on a cumulative total of 263 shots (177 considered on goal)—a decrease of .2%, but on the 90 more shots he’s taken this season. Not only is he shooting, but his efficiency in that mix is changing the tune to which he’s playing.
Also worth noting is that, between last season and this, his average time on ice has increased by more than 70 seconds, a rather substantial jump in the world of hockey. That equates to roughly two extra shifts per game.
Is it sustainable?
Moving forward, the two biggest factors facing the Wild are Parise’s health, and the ability of the winger to maintain shooting with the accuracy he’s had. If Parise stays healthy, he plays more. If he plays more, he doesn’t get rusty in off time. Giving him more opportunities to tally up more of those high caliber points.
While I do not anticipate a 70+ point season is realistic, seeing Parise rack up another 20 points in 26 games should be attainable. He averages roughly .87 points per game. The Wild, who are currently sitting in the second Wild Card slot of the Western Conference, are needing him to keep assisting and finding the net in this final stretch if they are hoping to solidify a chance at the cup.
The good news for Wild fans is that in his three playoff games last year Parise attained a point in each with a goal. Post season production is going to be vital if this team is hoping to make a big push. For now, though, the team needs to solidify a playoff berth. In order for Parise to keep his comeback season flame going, he needs to stay healthy.
Surely, Parise’s production is making his fans go Wild (and maybe easing the contract burden they’ve been feeling), but it remains to be seen if he can sustain this production through the final 26 games of the season, and into the post season. if they land a berth. Of course, this fan-base is also hoping this upgraded version of Parise hangs around for a while. This could prove troublesome for the winger, who’s signed through 2025.
Featured Image Photo Credit – Nikos Michals