MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. Zach Parise stepped off the ice at the St. Thomas Ice Arena on Saturday and calmly declared the Minnesota Wild are ready for their critical final week of the season.
Parise is well accustomed to being in this spot, in playoff contention heading into the final week of the season. In his seven seasons with the New Jersey Devils, Parise's teams only missed the playoffs once, the only occasion coming in 2010-11 when Parise was limited to 13 games because of injury.
After four seasons of missing the playoffs, Minnesota is in playoff position with just four games left in the season beginning Sunday night at home against the Calgary Flames. The Wild (24-17-3, 51 points) sit in seventh place in the Western Conference heading into Saturday's games, two points ahead of eighth-place Columbus.
"We're in a spot where if we play well right now, we'll get rewarded and we'll get where we want to be," Parise said, later adding: "You always want to be playing your best hock...