The Devils held an optional skate this morning, but coach Pete DeBoer revealed two lineup changes for tonight’s game, one more interesting than the other. First, the fourth line gets a bit of a change with Tim Sestito getting the chance to dress:
Devs lines tonight: Henrique-Loktionov-Kovalchuk; Elias-Zajac-Clarkson; Ponikarovsky-Gionta-Bernier; Matteau-Sestito-Butler.—
Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) February 28, 2013
Also, there will be some changes on defense, with a certain slow-footed Russian getting a night off.
Tallinder in fir Devils. Volchenkov is out—
Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils) February 28, 2013
Corey GriffinFirst thing’s first — obviously Ryan Carter won’t play tonight, but that’s not too big of a surprise. Sestito and Barch aren’t the same player, but they’re pretty redundant when played together, so I wouldn’t expect them to be in the same lineup unless the Devils were in desperate need of healthy bodies or about to face the Broad Street Bullies for seven straight games. It also looks like DeBoer has seen enough in practice to roll his new line combos in an actual game. As we talked about yesterday, I’m a big fan of Loktionov and Kovy skating together, even if means Henrique is playing out of position. I think the Devils have to find ways to get Loktionov in more offensive situations with better skill players than Bobby Butler and Stefan Matteau. I’ll also be interested to see if Elias can keep (get?) Zajac on track after the two connected for a goal Sunday afternoon. Maybe the two of them can team up to find David Clarkson’s scoring touch. That also sounds like an awesome idea for a Hardy Boys knockoff.
Anyway — as for the defense, I think it’s finally time to admit the Devils seriously limit themselves whenever Tallinder and Volchenkov are in the lineup for the same game. It’s even worse when they’re paired together, but I can’t imagine we’ll see that again after the Capitals disaster. Tallinder will skate with Mark Fayne tonight, which should provide Tallinder a nice steadying presence. Needless to say, Tallinder has had a rough go this season, often looking like he’s got one foot in retirement and the other 15 feet away from the play. We’ll see if he plays any better tonight — but I doubt it. Who could’ve guessed the Devils would have eight defensemen on the roster but still be in need of help on the blue line after six weeks.