The defense of the New Jersey Devils has been overloaded during this lockout shortened season. With eight healthy blueliners, two have been sitting. Peter Harrold has been riding the pine the most. Tonight will be just his third start and his second on defense. His first game way back on February 2nd was at forward.
What a difference a day makes! The Devils are now down to six healthy d-men.
Henrik Tallinder was on the ice briefly during warm-ups for Thursday night’s shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres. However, he did not play in the game with what the team is calling a lower body injury. Mark Fayne took his spot and suited up tonight against the Carolina Hurricanes as well.
Apparently, captain Bryce Salvador has been nursing an upper body injury and was not on the ice this evening either.
Coach Pete DeBoer did not seem concerned about these injuries and did not think that they would require the defenseman to be out for a lengthy period of time. He mentioned the possibility that they might be available for tomorrow’s rematch against the Winnipeg Jets.
“I think both those guys we’ll look at in the morning,” DeBoer said before the game. “All the reports I’ve gotten is good news and day to day. From what I’ve heard he’s (Salvador) definitely a consideration tomorrow.”
The Devils might have been down to five against the Hurricanes when Marek Zidlicky lost an edge during the morning skate and went flying. Thankfully, he was none the worse for wear.
Adam Larsson, who was not happy to be taken out the lineup the other night, was pleased to be back in.
“It’s not the way I want to be in,” Larsson said in a pre-game interview. “I’m glad I’m in the lineup again. It will be fun to play.”
For the defense, the night had its ups and downs. As a group, they chipped in four points.
However, the team still came up on the short end of the scoreboard with goalie Johan Hedberg being chased from the net for the second time this week.
The twenty-five-year old Minnesota native, Jeff Frazee, made his NHL debut exactly the way he didn’t want to, in relief. Frazee, who was 7-9-4 at the team’s AHL affiliate in Albany thus far this season, had said earlier this week that he did not want to get his first taste of the NHL the way teammate Keith Kinkaid did in Tuesday’s loss, by taking over for the starter.
Unfortunately, for the Devils, the offense continued to struggle. Ilya Kovalchuk started to show some life tonight, netting a short-handed goal and adding another, but it wasn’t enough.
With the season already half over and the April 3rd trade deadline looming just a few weeks away, one has to wonder, how long will General Manager Lou Lamoriello wait to make a move?