The Devils have been asked myriad questions about Zach Parise’s lack of offensive production throughout the Stanley Cup final.
Their response: Parise is not struggling even though their captain has not recorded a point since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference final. Parise is minus-two with 15 shots on goal in the first four game.
“Zach’s game is so much more than the stat line. He’s the heartbeat of our team. He’s the identity of our team. He forechecks, he backchecks, he kills penalties,” head coach Pete DeBoer said during his media availability at the Prudential Center Saturday morning. “He really is our barometer. He’s the guy that makes us go, whether he’s scoring or not.
“I don’t measure his game on goals and assists. He’s creating opportunities. They’re going to go in. He’s had these type of situations before. It’s tough out there for anyone to score. But I’m not concerned about his game. I know it’s going to come.”
Good starts win games
This just in: the Devils and the Kings wanted to get off to a good start in Game 5.
Both DeBoer and Kings head coach Darryl Sutter expounded on the importance of their teams having strong starts when the two coaches met with reporters.
“The first goal’s important. I don’t think there’s any secret that we won the last game because for the first time in the series we found a way to get some momentum,” DeBoer said. “That momentum is important, for sure.”
Only two of the 14 goals that have been scored in the series occurred in the first 10 minutes of Games 1 through 4. The Kings’ Colin Fraser scored the series-opening goal 9:56 into Game 1 and Drew Doughty’s goal came 7:49 into Game 2. The Kings won Games 1 and 2, 2-1, in overtime.
“I think the first 10 minutes are important every night,” Sutter said. “For our team and for every team.”
In non-Stanley Cup news
New York Rangers right wing Brandon Prust tweeted Saturday afternoon that the tendon surgery on his right ring finger “went well” and his “hand will be good as new in [six] weeks.” He added a photo of the stitch line, which ran from the base of his palm to his knuckle.
Prust said on breakup day that he injured the finger in a fight with Ottawa Senators center Zenon Konopka in the Rangers’ 3-0 loss on Jan. 12 at the Garden. He led the Rangers with 156 penalty minutes and was tied with Boston’s Shawn Thornton for the league lead in fighting majors with 20.
“I love the guy,” Rangers head coach John Tortorella said about Prust on breakup day. Prust, who is an unrestricted free agent this summer, earned $800,000 last season.
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.