Besides the Stefan Matteau news — which we’ll delve a little deeper into later today — the other item of importance out of today’s morning skate was the continued benching of Henrik Tallinder.
Corey GriffinPete 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.
Zidlicky has struggled mightily this season, committing bad penalties and often being out of place in the defensive zone. His one plus is as the point man on the Devils’ power play, but he’s also been the lone defenseman on the ice for multiple short-handed rushes by opposing teams. If DeBoer truly believes the Devils have “eight NHL defensemen” then there’s no reason to keep an average power play specialist in the lineup, especially for 13 to 15 minutes a game. If Zidlicky’s ice time wanes again tonight against Tampa, it’ll likely be just a matter of time before he’s out and Tallinder returns.