For the second time this season, Wild coach Dean Evason decided to make veteran Zach Parise a healthy scratch. The 36-year-old Parise watched Friday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks from above, while fellow winger Nick Bjugstad took his spot in the lineup.

It’s unclear if Evason is trying to send a message to Parise, or if he’s simply going what he feels is the best lineup. Nonetheless, the decision to sit Parise will create a notable story line heading into the final week of the regular season.

Is this a sign of things to come with the playoffs a little more than a week away? The answer to that question will materialize over the next week.

In the meantime, Parise will have to grin and bear it, much like he did the last time he was healthy scratch a couple of months ago.

That healthy scratch stemmed from Parise overextending a shift late in a March 1 overtime loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. While he explained his intentions to the team after that game, Evason decided to sit Parise for the March 3 rematch between the Wild and Golden Knights.

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“It was disappointing, and I don’t agree with the decision,” Parise said at the time. “In my heart, I felt like I was doing the right thing.”

This is only the third time in Parise’s 16-year career that he has sat out as a healthy scratch. His only other time before this season came on Nov. 30, 2005 when he was a rookie with the New Jersey Devils.

Look at Parise’s performance over the past couple of weeks and it might explain why he sat out Friday’s game. He’s gone the past nine games without scoring a point and has watched his playing time steadily decrease in that span.

Playoff picture

While the Wild effectively clinched a playoff berth a couple of weeks ago, there’s still a lot to play for heading into the final week of the regular season. In theory, the Wild could pass the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the West Coast division, and if things broke completely in their favor, they could even pass the Golden Knights for first place.

Heading into Friday’s slate of games, the Wild had 71 points, the Avalanche had 72 points, and the Golden Knights had 76 points.

Fiala returns

After missing Wednesday’s game with a lower-body injury, dynamic winger Kevin Fiala made his return to the lineup in Friday’s game. This is good news for the Wild with the playoffs right around the corner. He played on the second line alongside Victor Rask and opposite Marcus Johansson.