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The Sparkplug

By: Brian Deakyne

Last night, in a game the New Jersey Devils (33-14-1) needed to win, coming off of a three-game losing streak while being depleted by injury, it was the kid who has sparked the Devils over the past five seasons who stepped up.

Zach Parise, the 25 year-old North Dakota graduate drew the Devils first powerplay and received the primary assist on Travis Zajacs 14th goal of the season late in the second period, which was the game-winner.

Still, the role of the catalyst is nothing new for the hockey-plagued Parise family. Zach's father, J.P played a similar role in his professional hockey career, most notably with the Minnesota North Stars.

For Jerseys Team, the man with the Assistant captain's 'A' is becoming quite familiar with being involved in the scoring, as he has improved over all five of his seasons., and has become quite the workhorse, playing at least 81 regular season games in the first four of those seasons.

Parise has steadily improved in scoring goals in his short NHL career, with goals ranging from 14 goals in his rookie season of 2005-2006 to 45 last season. This season, he is on track to continue the improvement, already tallying 20 goals and 28 assists.

But for New Jersey, the Parise affect on the team goes so much farther than goals and assists. the young winger for the Devils is widely considered one of the more skilled forwards in the game, but a lot of that has to do with his hustle. He constantly out hustles defenders for loose pucks, making it difficult to contain him, often resulting in penalties or high scoring chances.

For the New Jersey Devils to keep fighting for top playoff position, and a home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs, which is something they deserve, Parise will play a major role and will need to continue his hard work that his resulted in goals, and most importantly, Devils wins.

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