Islanders veteran forward Zach Parise is understandably frustrated.
In his first year with the team — the same franchise his father helped put on the map in the mid-1970s — the 37-year-old’s stat line is underwhelming: 32 games, one goal, eight assists, nine points.
His shooting percentage is by far at its worst — a measly 2% compared to his career average of 11.5% in the previous 1,060 games he played over 16 years with the New Jersey Devils and Minnesota Wild.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little frustrated that the puck hasn’t gone in as much as I’d like it to,” Parise admitted on Thursday. “The chances are there.”
Yet there he was on Tuesday night in the Islanders’ win over the Philadelphia Flyers manning the right-wing spot on the first line next to team captain Anders Lee and star center Mathew Barzal and picking up an assist.
Think of the decision by head coach Barry Trotz as a move made out of necessity, — with Kyle Palmieri injured, a right-winger that can mesh with Barzal has been difficult to find — optimism with the hope that it can spark his offensive game, and a reward.
“I like the way I’ve been playing, playing without the puck, and creating chances,” Parise said. “I keep telling the guys I’m a second-half player. Hopefully, the tide will turn here.”
Despite Parise’s lack of offensive production, he’s been one of the Islanders’ most important players during a 12-game stretch that has seen them go 8-3-1 while recording minutes on the power play and penalty kill.
“The stats are so heavily weighed to the offensive players but the reliable, capable, trustworthy, effective players who don’t put up big numbers, they don’t have as many numbers to back that up,” Trotz said. “You need those guys to win. You really do. Those guys set a tone… The offensive fancy stats are a lot more sexy than the will and the guys it takes to get a puck out or block a shot. Those stats don’t get as much play by everybody. They’re not as sexy.”
For the stats kept by Trotz and his coaching staff to measure a player’s effectiveness outside those “sexy stats,” the Islanders’ coach assured that Parise’s numbers have been “on the positive a lot more than the negative end.”
“I can honestly say that through looking at chances for and against every night,” he continued. “Most nights, he’s on a positive side. That’s why he’s in the lineup every night. You know what you’re getting and he does it at a high commitment level.”