2006-10-20 / Sports

Devils' Parise Looking To Carry On Solid Play

By Derek Felix


EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ -So far, so good for Devils' forward Zach Parise in year number two. After a solid finish to his first season, the 22 year-old Minnesota native came into 2006-07 expecting bigger things from himself.

"I really thought things were kind of coming together at the end of last year and I was just trying to carry it over from when Gomez, Gionta and I were playing together," Parise expressed after notching a power play goal in the Devils' 3-2 victory over Philadelphia Saturday night. It was his third in four games to go with an assist but the second-year North Dakota product was keeping it in perspective.

"I just want to kind of carry that on and so far it's early. Three, four games. But it's been going pretty good so far," he pointed out.

The key for Parise is to be consistent and continue excelling while playing with two dynamic talented players in Gomez and Gionta on the Devils' top line. After starting slowly his rookie season, he finished well with his American linemates, concluding with 14 goals and 18 assists for 32 points in 81 games while tallying a goal and two helpers in his first postseason. The former 2003 first round pick knows that that experience should make him feel more comfortable this season.

"No question. Especially cause you just kind of see what it's all about. The more experience, the better. Especially here. I feel a lot better now at this time this year than I did last year."

Since being teamed with Gomez and Gionta, he's formed excellent chemistry with them adding even more speed and making the trio more dangerous on rushes. But he also realizes his good fortune to play with such talent.

"I'm pretty fortunate to play with those guys," he noted. "They make it pretty easy for me and they're helpful. That's the most important thing. I think we just kind of click pretty well so far together."

Parise also understands who he replaced on that line when then Coach/GM Lou Lamoriello moved him up while shifting present team captain Patrik Elias to the second line to give the Devils more balance and spark them to their sixth Atlantic title.

"It was tough because Patty was on that line. So it's kind of hard. Kind of big shoes to fill but I think it's gone pretty good so far."

While it's been a smooth transition thus far for Parise, he's also excited to have another North Dakota product alongside him in former 2004 Devils' first round pick Travis Zajac.

"North Dakota is a good place to go play and we chat a little bit about it but got to turn the page. He's doing real well for us this year. I think he's going to be a really good player in the league."

One thing Parise is happy about is that his older brother Jordan, who also starred as a goalie at North Dakota, was signed as a free agent by the Devils and is playing for AHL affiliate Lowell. With him close by, they speak frequently.

"I talk to him all the time. He's down at Lowell right now and hopefully, he'll get a chance to play down there and who knows what will happen down the road. But he's enjoying himself so far."

Who knows? Maybe one day the two brothers could lead the Devils to victory.

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