Thursday, May 17, 2012
Top line, unsung heroes and the fans
By Matt Ehalt
Expect to see Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and Zach Parise paired together again.
After putting together that high-octane line for Game 2 Wednesday night, Devils coach Peter DeBoer said during a conference call Thursday that he liked how that line helped the entire team's depth in the Devils' 3-2 win over the Rangers.
"I think we got the desired effect," DeBoer said. "Maybe it didn't translate into 5-on-5 goals, but I think more than how that line specifically played, I thought it gave us four lines we could roll and really keep pressure on the other team."
The trio is usually split up during games, although they have been paired together before. Kovalchuk and Zajac are usually on the same line, while Parise is instead on a line centered by Patrik Elias. After the Rangers blanked the Devils in Game 1, DeBoer put together the three to galvanize the offense and create better scoring chances.
While they didn’t score any even-strength goals, Kovalchuk sniped home a power-play goal in the first to give the Devils a 1-0 lead, with Parise contributing an assist. They combined for seven shots on goal as the Devils evened up the series.
"I like what they did, I think they're capable of dominating a game," DeBoer said. "Maybe we didn't see that last night, but every time you roll those guys out they have the potential to do that on every given night, and I like what it allowed us to do with our other three lines and the balance we had."
EARNING PRAISE: After tallying a combined eight points during the regular season, defenseman Bryce Salvador has eight points in just 14 games in the playoffs, including two assists in Wednesday night's win.
"I don't know, I think maybe contract year," DeBoer said with a laugh about Salvador's offensive explosion in the playoffs. "He's an unsung warrior for us. I can tell you he's the one guy that probably doesn't know even know how many points he's got. He's just playing his game. That's what we need him to do. He's had a fantastic year for us and another guy we wouldn't be here without him."
DeBoer also praised the play of Marek Zidlicky. The Devs acquired the defenseman for three players, a second-round pick in 2012 and a third-round choice in 2013.
"He's invaluable. We wouldn't be here without him." DeBoer said. "I think it was a great trade Lou made identifying him and paying the price to go and get him. At the time, it looked like a heavy price to pay but he's been worth every bit of it and more."
WHERE THE FANS ARE: During regular season games at the Prudential Center, Parise noticed how the Rangers fans would make themselves heard when the Blueshirts scored. While the team is no longer promoting its "No Blue" initiative, Parise wants to see a home rink filled with Devils fans Saturday night.
"Hopefully, there won't be too many blue jerseys in the stands for this home game," Parise said.