Reid Boucher by the number: Albany 2013
Reid Boucher by the number: Albany 2013
In a move that was long rumored over the summer, Damien Brunner will be attending training camp, looking to make the club.
This is a no-brainer if you ask me. Give him a tryout, see how he does, and if it doesn't pan out, there's no harm done.
?I think he needs to take a step back for a night and just watch,? Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. ?His confidence isn?t where it needs to be. So, that?s the solution I?ve come up with.?
It's not a game-day skate, so nothing's guaranteed. But as much as DeBoer likes to change things up when the Devils are losing, he usually prefers to run the same lineup out after a win. My guess is Loktionov ends up in the press box again for Saturday's game against the Panthers, but we should know for sure after tomorrow's morning skate.
?I think two games I played good and the last game I played OK,? Loktionov said. ?That?s not good for me. I have to try play always good. I can?t play like that ? up and down, up and down. I have to (keep getting better).
?Sometimes it?s good to see how the team plays when you sit upstairs. Sometimes you have to see what you need to do to score or do something on the ice.?
Once again Pete DeBoer is shuffling multiple bodies in and out of the lineup. It's a trick he's tried multiple times this season to varying effect. There's been games where the "trick" has sparked the club or seen a player skate like his ass is on fire, but that's usually just a one- or two-game fix. Mostly, it's been a short-term, half-torn, blood-stained bandaid over a gaping wound. They Devils have been searching for a left wing on the first line all season. They've been trying to find six reliable defensemen (despite having eight on the roster) all season. They've looked for reliable third- and fourth-line wingers while trying to find anybody with a 20-goal scoring touch (Hello, Matt D'Agostini). None of it works. This is all very "deck chairs on the Titanic" rather than trying to find a combination that works. If there were one, DeBoer would've found it by now.
We finally found out on which line and with whom he'll be playing.
We're not too surprised by Sullivan playing the right side considering the Devils currently have four NHL-quality left wings in Carter, Zubrus, Ponikarovsky and Elias. DeBoer also noted that Sullivan will see some time on the power play, which is something Sullivan did in Pittsburgh last year. Worth noting is that Sullivan played the point for the Pens' power play, which is something the Devils have been missing since they lost Ilya Kovalchuk to injury. The key here will be remembering to keep your expectations in check. Sullivan is basically ancient (38) in NHL years and hasn't scored 20 goals since the oddity year of 2006-07. We also don't know where Sullivan will play in terms of linemates, which DeBoer says he's still formulating. That'll go a long way in determining just how much of an offensive role Sullivan will have with these Devils.
As you'll notice, Adam Larsson is unlikely to be one of those seven defensemen with Anton Volchenkov returning to the lineup. While it might seem a little odd, it actually makes a ton of sense. For one, Peter Harrold can play up front as well, which means he can easily eat up the seven minutes usually assigned to the fourth-line wingers. Also, Volchenkov's shot blocking will be seriously needed against the Bruins tonight, particularly considering how much some of their defensemen love to fire the puck at the net. I also like the idea because the Devils have pretty much had one problem defenseman per game for most of the season. Rarely do they get all six D-men clicking and playing well both individually and as a unit. Dressing seven defensemen allows DeBoer to "go with the hot hand," so to speak. For those of you worried about losing a forward for a team that already can't score -- it's not like pulling Kostopolous or Barch were going to help New Jersey put goals in the net. DeBoer has also been known to bury those guys and shorten his bench in tight games, which tonight should be if the Devils have a chance to win in the third. With all things considered, I like the idea on a game-by-game basis.
DeBoer said at practice today that with the Devils playing a lot of games in a tight schedule, he'll be switching things up on defense. He wants to keep everyone fresh enough to avoid tired legs.
There's no word on who will come out of the lineup for Larsson, although my guess would be Peter Harrold, who did some extra work after this morning's skate. The Devils would have to clear a roster spot for Tallinder, who is currently on injured reserve.
?I think it?s tough for anyone in that situation,? he said. ?But, at the same, you?ve got to understand why you?re sitting out, try to work on things. It?s always different too watching the game from up top. You get a different perspective on things. You see the game from a different angle and sometimes that can be helpful.?
Did Fayne understand why he was sitting out?
Devils coach Pete DeBoer said D?Agostini will play right wing tonight, but he hadn?t decided his line combinations yet or which forward will come out of the lineup.
?The line combinations we?re not set in stone yet,? DeBoer said. ?We?re going to have another meeting after pre-game skate. So, we?ll decide on that this afternoon, , but he?s for me a top nine type forward, so we?re going to give him that opportunity.?
The current group has been playing pretty well, so I can't and won't get upset about this. But there will come a time where DeBoer will need Fayne to get his confidence back and that has to be before we get too deep into April.
I'm sure many Devils fans are happy to see the return of the CBGB line, although all of this was necessitated by the injuries to Ponikarovsky and Dainius Zubrus. Once those two return, unless the Devils want Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or Loktionov to center the fourth line (they don't), then I wouldn't expect that line to appear except for certain points when DeBoer maybe wants to give the whole team a spark. Also, DeBoer really dislikes using Henrique on the wing and only uses him there when he has to. Assuming Poni isn't seriously hurt, I'd expect him to return to that spot until Zubrus is healthy, at which point all bets are off in terms of line combos. We'll have to see how serious the injury to Ponikarovsky is later today once DeBoer addresses the media. If he's out for tomorrow's game, I'd be willing to bet these are the lines we'll see against Carolina.
Second, on tonight's goalie:
We'll have more on these changes in our game preview shortly.
Fayne was scheduled to be a healthy scratch along with Adam Larsson, but apparently Tallinder was unable to go at the last minute. We'll let you know more on his status as soon as the information becomes available.
We haven't seen those top two line combos since the first games following the Ponikarovsky trade. But wait! There's changes afoot on the back end, too.
I imagine DeBoer's lineup decision led to a scene similar to this in the home locker room of the Prudential Center:
We've seen this before, DeBoer moving Matteau to the first or second line to start a game, only to find him riding the bench for much of the second or third period. The question isn't whether Matteau can hang up there (he can't), but rather how long DeBoer will attempt to keep Loktionov, Zajac and Henrique centering three separate lines. The Henrique-on-the-wing experiment has been tried and failed twice so far this season and I can't imagine DeBoer is anxious to return to that anytime soon. However, it's not like the Devils are overflowing with first line left wings for the time being. Perhaps DeBoer is just trying to buy time until Dainius Zubrus is healthy again, but this team isn't in a situation where it can sit around and wait for help. If I can guess anything, I'd say the lines that start the game are unlikely to be the ones that finish the game.
Also, there will be some changes on defense, with a certain slow-footed Russian getting a night off.
Carter, who has been sidelined by concussion-like symptoms, skated on the fourth line, rotating in and out with Stefan Matteau, Krys Barch, Bobby Butler and recent callup Tim Sestito. The rejiggered fourth line is part of Pete DeBoer's recent trend of trying new forward combos over the past week in an attempt to wake up the Devils' slumping offense.
Here are the other line pairings for the day:
It's not a gameday morning skate, so it's not 100 percent solid, but I'd expect Marty back in net tomorrow with Johan Hedberg taking his usual second half of the back-to-back Sunday night.
UPDATE: Check that, looks like it'll be Hedberg tomorrow.
Rookie Stefan Matteau is skating in Carter?s place on the third line with Stephen Gionta and Steve Bernier. Matteau, who will turn 19 on Saturday, has been a healthy scratch the last three games.
I'll get into more detail in my preview for tonight's game, but I can't say I blame DeBoer after the game Fayne had last night. Also, a reminder, it'll be Johan Hedberg in net tonight.
This isn't all that surprising -- all you have to do is look at the players that have rotated through that spot thus far this season to understand the decision. DeBoer has tried Stefan Matteau, Ryan Carter, Bobby Butler, Jacob Josefson, Adam Henrique and Dainius Zubrus at first line left wing. Outside of Zubrus, Matteau has gotten the longest look there, but mostly for five or six shifts a game max. In a post I'll (hopefully) get to later today, I'll go deeper into the benefits on the Poni trade, but this is chief among them. I don't know if he'll spent the entire game there, especially if the Devils get off to a poor start again, but I imagine he'll get a pretty long look.
And the fact that Ponikarovsky is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow against Philly.
Also, Mathieu Darche, who has been skating with the team despite not having a contract, was not at the skate either.
Heddy will have to be on his game tomorrow. The Penguins are going to come out flying after today's loss, especially being back at home.
To put Brodeur's feat in perspective: Patrick Roy is second among goalies in all-time games played at 1,029 and Nikolai Khabibulin is the closest active player with 783 games. Yeah. Wow.
Pete DeBoer has stated and shown a willingness to rotate in all of his defensemen so far this season. Well, except for Peter Harrold. Sorry, Pete. So the question now becomes, how long will Tallinder sit for? Probably until Marek Zidlicky gets pulled. As more than a few of you pointed out on Twitter, Zidlicky's ice time has dipped considerably since the Islanders loss last Thursday. After bottom out at 19:12 and playing mostly 22-plus minutes a night on the first line, Zidlicky has been demoted to the third unit over the last three games. He's also seen his ice time drop from 18:26 to 16:30 to 13:19 in the last three games, respectively.
Dainius Zubrus is not participating in the Devils? morning skate today at Prudential Center and will not play in tonight?s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning because of an upper-body injury, the team says.
Rookie left wing Stefan Matteau is skating this morning in Zubrus? spot on the top line with Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk. That doesn?t guarantee he?ll play in that spot, though.
Forwards: Dainius Zubrus-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk; Patrik Elias-Adam Henrique-David Clarkson; Ryan Carter-Stephen Gionta-Steve Bernier; Krys Barch-Jacob Josefson-Bobby Butler, Stefan Matteau, Mathieu Darche.
Defensemen: Bryce Salvador-Mark Fayne; Andy Greene-Adam Larsson; Anton Volchenkov-Marek Zidlicky; Henrik Tallinder-Peter Harrold.
Picking up where they left off last night, Adam Henrique was skating on the left side of the Devils' top line alongside Travis Zajac and Ilya Kovalchuk. It was a little surprising considering Pete DeBoer admitted last night that he prefers to play Henrique at center. So why slot him in at LW right now?
"I thought we did a great job as a group of everyone stepping up while he was out," coach Pete DeBoer said Thursday, "but hes a big part of our team obviously and you can start to slot people in the right spots when hes in the lineup."
While Henrique will likely eventually slot in on the second line between Patrik Elias and David Clarkson, he'll start Thursday's game on the fourth unit, skating with Krys Barch and former Albany teammate Matt Anderson. Don't expect that to stick though.
As was noted yesterday, it'll be Johan Hedberg in net tonight against Boston.
He hasn?t started a game since a 3-1 victory over the Islanders on April 3 of last season.
UPDATE: That means we'll likely see the same line combinations the Devils rolled out in practice yesterday, starting with Stefan Matteau on the first line at left wing.
Here's what else Devils fans should expect to start the game tonight, with Martin Brodeur in net:
Here's the official lineup and D pairings from today's morning skate:
[tweet https://twitter.com/TGfireandice/status/292670737456717825 align='center']
Also, looks like Adam Larsson will be among the inactives tonight, meaning Henrik Tallinder will likely be on the third defensive pairing.
Henrique, DeBoer said during our Monday interview, was still 10-to-14 days away from being healthy, but once that?s the case, he figures his two main offensive pairs up front will be Ilya Kovalchuk with Travis Zajac on one line, and Henrique with veteran Patrik Elias on the other.
"Those are our two pairs at the top that I want to keep together, but who rides shotguns for those guys are the jobs that are up for grabs," DeBoer said.First of all, let's be clear that Zajac and Henrique could easily swap places throughout the year. While I think they both fit will with their respective partners at this time, it's not often you see the top two lines on any NHL team will struggles to score (and the Devils will) stay together for an entire season. With that said, I came up three sets of line combinations that I think work well together, assuming the Zajac-Kovy and Elias-Henrique pairings. Two things should be noted before we go forward: I'm leaving out a fourth line that I assume will alternate between four players (Bernier, Carter, Janssen, Gionta) and I'm listing Kovy at RW because that appears to be where DeBoer is comfortable using him.
Travis Zajac, who figures to be the Devils? top center, believes there should be no doubts about Clarkson being a first-liner.