It seems for most of the season the New Jersey Devils‘ top line and second line have been alternating carrying the team’s offense. Whether it is the line of Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac and Dainius Zubrus or the line of Adam Henrique, Michael Ryder and Ryane Clowe, the top six of the Devils are responsible for all the scoring.
One player has been missing from the team due to injury: Patrik Elias. Despite missing 15 games, Elias is still tied for second on the team in points. He is the only player that has been consistent all season (when healthy, of course). His 18 assists trails only Jagr. He is vital to this team offensively.
However, with the way that the two top lines have been playing, you want to try to keep them together (even though Reid Boucher has been given a shot with the top line tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes). Putting Elias on the third line seems preposterous with the past contributions and current standing with the team, but it may be the best thing to do for the Devils.
Peter DeBoer has yet another hard decision to make. Can you put the franchise leader in almost everything not goalie-related down to the bottom six when he is still producing?
The way that the bottom six has been producing, or not producing, has really held the Devils back. Putting Elias there could turn that around. The experiment starts now, with Zubrus and Steve Bernier starting alongside Elias on the third line. If he can help them catch up with the top two lines, or at least come close, the team could be very scary come the stretch run, especially since the Devils are only two points out of second place in the division.