A massive panic ran roughshod through the NHL, Minnesota Wild and fantasy hockey fans alike as Zach Parise went down to a knee injury at the hands of James Neal from the Nashville Predators. Parise is week-to-week with a sprained MCL.
What happened to Parise?
This is the best visual description of what happened to the winger.
Minnesota now has to deal with the aftermath, and for a team with a scarcity of depth, this could be dangerous if the worst case scenario happens.
Peering Into Thomas Vanek
It will not be easy to replace Parise’s seven goals in 12 games (nine points overall), but the winger might be able to on a short-term basis. Vanek will be paired with former Buffalo Sabres linemate, Jason Pominville. Give the enigmatic forward credit, he actually has more points (10) than Parise did in the early portion of the year so far.
Last year’s 52 points was a downturn from his previous years, but this season Vanek seems to have put some problems behind him and looks rededicated.
In the absence of Zach Parise tonight, Thomas Vanek has played really well. #mnwild
— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) November 6, 2015
Will it be enough? The Wild were really not able to solve Pekka Rinne often enough once Parise went out. Could Vanek handle playing 19 or even 20 minutes for the next few games? The funny part is he only did that during the 2013-14 season when he played for three teams. It will be a test and the schedule is not particularly easy (Lightning, Jets, Hurricanes).
Then there is Jason Pominville
This is the real question mark. Last season saw a real decline in Pominville’s shot selection and shooting percentage (7.1 percent). The 2015-16 season has only been worse, as the forward is still playing 18+ minutes a night but has just five assists to show for. Pominville has zero goals on the year.
This is where the loss of Parise for any amount of time hurts. A veteran leader is not supposed to struggle like this. The first three years in Minnesota saw slightly above average possession and now Pominville does not even have that.
What To Expect?
Chemistry has been found before between these two wingers and honestly whomever gets called up from Iowa (their AHL affiliate) is not going to make a difference. Consider that Iowa has scored 17 goals in their first 12 games in 2015-16.
For a few games, Minnesota might be OK with Devan Dubnyk carrying the load. If anything goes downhill then look out.