Larsson Watch: Should Losses Bring Lineup Changes?

For most of the first week of the season, Pete DeBoer stuck by the mantra of “As long as we win, the lineup will stay the same (for the most part).” Well, after a pair of losses, although both were after the end of regulation, it’s fair to wonder if it’s time to switch things up, particularly on the back end and maybe get everyone’s favorite well-rested defenseman some playing time.

Right, Todd Cordell of The Hockey Guys?

Corey Griffin

I’ve taken a couple days off of banging this drum while the Devils made their first road trip of the season. I understood DeBoer’s reasoning. When you start out the season 3-0-0, it’s hard to change things. Hell, when you get points in all five games to start the year, it’s hard to change things. There’s no one on defense that is an absolute TOTAL liability, although they’ve all had their own boneheaded moments, from Salvador to Greene to Tallinder. But even when these six defensemen are solid and don’t make mistakes in their own end, they still lack offensive explosiveness. They lack playmaking ability — Marek Zidlicky’s the closest thing they have to an offense threat on the blue line and even then he’s not exactly Scott Niedermayer back there. So maybe it’s time to give Larsson a shot.

No one is saying that Larsson is going to take the league by storm and put up 12 goals and 30 points in the 43 remaining games, but he’s got more offensive upside than any defenseman on the team. When you’re struggling to generate offense up front, the best bonus you can have is a boost from a defenseman. To quote The Schmooze, you know what I’m talking of. It’s that outlet pass that springs Ilya Kovalchuk or that shot from the point on the second power play unit that creates opportunities in front of the net. He may not be as experienced as the other guys and there may be questions about whether he’s as good of an overall defenseman as the current top six, but don’t you have to see if his offensive potential provides the team with a spark? I tend to think it’s time to see, but we’ll just have to see if DeBoer agrees.