It took just a few days of training camp for Zach Parise to notice the stark differences that separate the New York Islanders from a majority of the NHL as a legitimate Stanely Cup contender.
“The pace is high,” Parise said. “You can tell these guys have played together for a while, they know what they’re doing.”
Parise, 37, is one of the few new guys on the block after signing a one-year deal with the Islanders that was made official earlier this month.
Having spent the previous one years with the Minnesota Wild, the former captain up north is learning a new, intricate system that has been well-documented for its resoluteness. But the Islanders offer Parise a chance of finally lifting a Stanley Cup — something he came close to doing while captaining the New Jersey Devils in 2012.
It’s been quite some time since Parise has made a deep run in the playoffs. He appeared in 44 postseason games with the Wild over seven playoff appearances. Meanwhile, the Islanders have played 49 playoff games in just the last three years — including two successive trips to the Stanley Cup semifinals.
The groundwork of those contending teams has been laid throughout extensively planned out, high-vigor camps
“You try as seamlessly as you can to get on board and figure things out as quick as possible,” Parise said. “There’s a lot of intensity from the group. From a new guy, you can see why the team has done so well over the last couple years.”
So far, so good.
“It’s been great,” Parise said of his first days as an Islander. “The guys have been really welcoming. Some adjustments on the ice from what I’ve been accustomed to for a while [are needed] — just learning as quick as I can about the system.”
His style of play should transition well into the Islanders’ system; or it’s expected to, at least. The veteran left-winger has made his name in the NHL by being a tenacious, tireless worker on both ends of the ice — specifically adding an imposing net-front presence on the offensive end.
Early projections have him slotting in on the Islanders’ third line alongside the swiss-army-knife center that is Jean-Gabriel Pageau.
“He’s a hard player to play against just from his work ethic and the way he manages the puck and the way he works shift after shift,” Pageau said of Parise. “Having him by my side makes my job even easier. We’ll get the chance to know each other a little more [at camp].”
“One of my strengths is getting on the forecheck and getting pucks back,” Parise said. “[Pageau and I] will complement each other well from that aspect. I think we’re both responsible guys. Just looking to get the puck back as quick as we can.”