Stanley Cup Notebook: Power play problems, Tallinder’s return
Among the primary reasons the Devils find themselves in a 1-3 hole heading into Saturday night’s Game 5 has been the failing of their power play in the series.
The Devils, who rank ninth among NHL playoff teams with a 14.8 percent success rate with the man advantage, are 0-for-14 in the four games against the Kings. Yet head coach Pete DeBoer took some positives out of the Devils’ power play in Game 4, despite it finishing 0-for-3. The Devils were credited with six shots on goal in their three power plays.
“We had some good looks on the power play,” DeBoer said when he met with reporters at the Prudential Center Friday. “I know the numbers don’t speak well. I know when you’re zero-for-whatever, everyone’s calling for change. ‘Why don’t you do this [and] why don’t you do that?’
“The one thing about our team is we believe in what we’re doing,” DeBoer said. “Most nights it’s about execution and I feel we’ve gotten good looks on the power play throughout the series. It’s looked bad at points — credit to L.A. — [but] I think it’s also looked real good and we’ve gotten some real quality chances that in other series — prior series — we’ve stuck in the net. We’re just going to stick with it. We’re not a team that throws things out because they’re not working.”
Tallinder inserts himself
DeBoer admitted that Henrik Tallinder talked him into playing the defenseman in Game 4.
Tallinder, in his first game action since Jan. 17 due to a blood clot in his right leg, was strong in the 19:21 of ice time spanning 29 shifts Wednesday. He finished with two shots on goal, had two additional attempts blocked, threw a hit and blocked a shot.
“I had a conversation with Henrik on Tuesday [during the Devils’ practice], explaining my thought process because I knew he was ready to go; he made that clear,” DeBoer said. “I explained to him [that] I felt Peter Harrold and [Anton] Volchenkov had done a real good job for us. It was going to be real tough to take those guys out of the lineup.
“Where I had a change of heart was his reaction. It wasn’t negative; he was just adamant that he was ready and really thought he could help. When a player put his neck on the line like that, I got a real comfort level knowing he was a veteran guy and knowing how good he was at the top of his game for us as a top-two guy. He basically talked me into that,” DeBoer said. “I thought he was outstanding. [A] big boost for us.”
Said Tallinder when asked to describe his emotions in his first game in nearly six months: “Excitement, nervous, happy. There were so many emotions out there. I just enjoyed it. It was so much fun. It’s another level, even from the conference final to go to the [Cup] final.”
Large and in charge
Martin Brodeur and Zach Parise admitted that the Kings are the biggest team the Devils have played against in their run to the Cup final.
Brodeur pointed to the size and skill of Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner, while Parise said, “Probably, top-to-bottom, I would think so. They finish their checks. I would say, yeah, top-to-bottom, they’re probably the biggest team we played against.”
Follow NHL beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman and come back here for complete online coverage of Game 5.