Zach Parise said he and his veteran teammates on the Minnesota Wild know they may not have many more opportunities to win the Stanley Cup.
“Regardless of the situation and how these playoffs are taking shape, I look at myself too, you’re running out of chances,” the Wild forward said Wednesday. “In the back of guys’ minds, we’re an older team; we’ve got guys in the early and mid-30s. You don’t get these [chances] all the time.”
The Wild (35-27-7, .558 points percentage) enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 10 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 7 seed, the Vancouver Canucks (36-27-6; .565), in one of eight best-of-5 series, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the loser having a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.
Parise, who turns 36 on July 28, led the Wild with 25 goals in 69 games before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He also leads the Wild with 97 postseason games, scoring 74 points (35 goals, 39 assists). He reached the Stanley Cup Final once with the New Jersey Devils in 2012, losing to the Los Angeles Kings in six games.
Minnesota has 11 players who have played more than 25 playoff games, and defenseman Ryan Suter (78 games), forwards Mats Zuccarello (73), Eric Staal (58) and Mikko Koivu (55) each has significant postseason experience.
“We’re still playing in the playoffs, still playing for the Stanley Cup,” Parise said. “Outside of Eric (Staal, who won a championship with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006), none of us have won. We have to lead the way and be a part of the success in the playoffs.”
Although the Canucks have some postseason experience of their own, led by center Jay Beagle (85 games), defenseman Alexander Edler (65) and forward J.T. Miller (61), three of their best players, center Elias Pettersson, rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes and right wing Brock Boeser, have never played in the postseason.
The Wild missed the playoffs last season but had qualified in each of the prior five seasons, while the Canucks have not made the postseason since 2014-15. Minnesota won two of the three games against the Canucks in the regular season.
“You look for every advantage you can get,” Parise said, “[The Canucks] do have a young, really skilled team that’s going to be good for a little while — the next few years. But if we can use that experience that we talk about as an advantage, being thrown right into this thing, we’ve got a lot of guys that have played in some pretty important games and big games. If that can give us any type of edge, we’ll take it.”
Parise and the Wild have been skating in two groups as part of the NHL Return to Play Plan. Phase 2, which began June 8, allowed for voluntary workouts on and off the ice in small groups at team facilities.
Goalie Devan Dubnyk, 34, has played 26 postseason games and will be competing with Alex Stalock (32,…