With the puck drop of Game 82 on Friday night at UBS Arena, the regular-season finale, Zach Parise solidified his status as the only member of the Islanders to play in all 82 games — normally more of a common feat, but one that Islanders head coach Barry Trotz was sure to make note of.
The 2021-22 season was an unprecedented (how many times have we heard that word over the last two years?) one for the Islanders, whose playoff hopes were derailed by a franchise-long 13-game road trip to start the season, a COVID outbreak that saw roughly half the roster impacted throughout the winter months, and injuries that sidelined key contributors.
Second-year defenseman Noah Dobson was the only other Islander to reach the 80-game mark while 47 players around the league have either played every game this season or are about to hit that 82-game mark. Compare that to last season where 106 skaters appeared in all 56 games of the NHL’s shortened season.
Of those 47 skaters, Parise is the second oldest at 37 years and 275 days old, just 17 days the junior of Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski, making a full season of play under such conditions even more of an impressive accomplishment.
“[He’s a] good example of a tremendous pro. He takes care of himself, he’s dialed into the game,” Trotz said. “It’s fortunate because there’s been a lot of different enemies for us. The schedule, flying pucks, COVID, the flu, you name it. There’s been a number of different obstacles and that’s a credit to him.”
More credit belongs to Parise for how he handled a miserable start to his time with the Islanders, signing a one-year contract last summer. After scoring just one goal in his first 33 games, Parise has tacked on 14 in his last 48 entering Friday night’s finale.
He did so while adopting contrasting roles within the Islanders’ forward group, playing mostly as an aggressive, forechecking third-line winger but also getting the call to flank Mathew Barzal on the team’s first line at times.
“He doesn’t play an easy game,” Trotz said. “I’ve coached [Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals] who’s this big, thick man… Zach is not in the same weight class but still plays a heavy game. To not get nicked up… it’s a credit to him this year for sure.”
For more Islanders content like this Zach Parise article, visit AMNY.com