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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

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51