Tuesday marked the second straight game Henrik Tallinder was a “healthy scratch” after the Devils suffered easily their worst of the season, a 5-1 humbler at the hands of the Penguins. Even though he was only on the ice for one of the Pens’ goals, he’s been the odd man out against the Islanders and now the Rangers. So what’s up?
“I don’t know. He wanted to make a change,” Tallinder said. “You can make all kinds of excuses. What it comes down to, maybe, is playing better. He’s the coach and he needed to make some change after the Pittsburgh game and it worked out.”
“I don’t know if he’s struggling,” DeBoer said of Tallinder.
“He knows what he has to do. He knows the expectations and what he needs to bring to the table and improve at. I think it’s a fine line. There is not a lot of difference between any of our eight defensemen, which is a good thing for our coaching staff. From a player’s perspective it leaves a small margin or error.”
Corey GriffinTallinder hasn’t exactly been lights out this season and while DeBoer may want to point to the time missed last season due to a blood clot in Tallinder’s leg, it’s hard not to wonder about the timing of it all. When the Devils inserted Adam Larsson into the lineup last week for an “injured” Mark Fayne, it was only a matter of time before Fayne returned to the lineup. Once Larsson made it clear he is, at least for now, one of the Devils’ six best defensemen, it became a numbers game on the back end. Salvador obviously isn’t going anywhere and neither is Zidlicky because of the role he plays on the first power-play unit. So then it comes down to Tallinder vs. Volchenkov and through the early part of the season, Volchenkov has been the better defender. Tallinder hasn’t played awful, but he hasn’t stood out, either and his name was bandied about earlier in the season and during training camp as someone the Devils might move for an extra forward. I still don’t think the Devils can carry eight healthy defensemen all season and if Tallinder continues to be a healthy scratch, it makes sense to see what you can get for him. Either way, while Tallinder might not have been the worst defender in Pittsburgh, his play overall has made it easier for DeBoer to send him to the press box for the time being.