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Returns of Sykora, Tallinder pay dividends

Friday, 06.08.2012 / 10:37 AM / News
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Returns of Sykora, Tallinder pay dividends

NEWARK -- Not many NHL teams can add 166 games worth of postseason experience overnight. But with his team down 3-0 to the Los Angeles Kings heading into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final in Los Angeles and in need of a spark, Devils coach Peter DeBoer saw an opportunity to do just that.

DeBoer added a mega-dose of playoff experience for Game 4 by dressing defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who returned to the lineup after being out since Jan. 17 with blood clots in his leg, as well as forward Petr Sykora, who had been a healthy scratch since Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Neither player had a point in Game 4, but both played well in the Devils' season-saving 3-1 win.

"They gave us a real shot of energy," said DeBoer, who showed concern for Tallinder because the blood clot forced the defenseman to remain mobile during the team's cross-country flight on Thursday. "Whenever you're out for an extended period, you worry about how they're going to get their timing. They had no hesitation when you talked to them about going back in, and that’s how they played.”

There aren't many NHL players with more postseason experience than Sykora, who's appearing in his sixth Stanley Cup Final with three teams -- he earned rings with the Devils in 2000 and with Pittsburgh in 2009. DeBoer put Sykora with Dainius Zubrus and longtime friend and teammate Patrik Elias, adding some life to a line that hadn't shown much in the series. The trio opened the scoring in the third period in Game 4 on a goal by Elias, giving New Jersey its first lead of the Final. Elias' backhander past Jonathan Quick was his first goal in two weeks and just his third goal since Game 3 of the Devils' opening-round series against Florida.

"He's obviously a very experienced player," Zubrus said of Sykora. "Me, him and Patrik played for pretty much most of the season. He knows where to be and how to support. In that way, I think we read off each other, whether it's forecheck or backcheck. I thought he played really goods. He seemed like he never missed a beat."

Playing his first playoff game in more than two years, Tallinder found himself on both the penalty kill and power play during his 19:21 in ice time. It was a strong return for a blueliner who played in back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals with Buffalo in 2006 and 2007. In the first of those runs with the Sabres, Tallinder notched a goal and an assist in a Game 5 win that sent his team to the Conference Final. The following year, he logged an impressive 30:37 of ice time in a Game 5 overtime loss that sent Ottawa to its first Cup Final.

The decision to dress Tallinder and Sykora was the latest in a series of postseason moves by DeBoer and his staff that have generated positive results.

"With how much homework that they do, whatever they seem to change, we see the results right away," captain Zach Parise said of the coaching staff. "We believe in what they're saying and the way they want us to play. Throughout the whole playoffs, we've played a couple of games a certain way and then we find a different thing to do and find out that it works."

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYR 62 39 17 6 196 153 84
3 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 62 24 31 7 144 167 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
M. Cammalleri 51 23 10 4 33
A. Henrique 56 12 20 -1 32
P. Elias 53 10 16 -13 26
S. Gomez 39 5 18 -9 23
M. Zidlicky 63 4 19 -7 23
T. Zajac 55 10 10 -4 20
S. Bernier 48 10 8 1 18
M. Ryder 44 6 12 -2 18
A. Larsson 45 2 16 3 18
M. Havlat 38 5 9 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 23 6 .927 2.19
K. Kinkaid 3 4 3 .915 2.59