Befitting the incredible paranoia that inflicts coaches during the playoffs, Devils head coach Peter DeBoer tap-danced around questions about lineup changes during his press availability Wednesday morning at the Prudential Center.
Ilya Kovalchuk, Travis Zajac and Zach Parise skated together through the Devils’ early skate and there were indications that Peter Harrold would replace Adam Larsson on defense.
Yet DeBoer would not commit to anything when asked for his rationale.
“I’m not even sure we’re going to start with those combinations. It’s just how we decided to skate this morning,” DeBoer said of the presumed top-line trio.
Of the Harrold-for-Larsson switch, DeBoer said, “We have the luxury of some depth on defense here and we’ve got guys that bring different strengths to the table. So [Harrold] is an option.” DeBoer did add that he “liked how Larsson’s played since he’s gone back in. If we do move Larsson out it’s not a reflection on how he played. [It is] just getting a different type [of] element in [the lineup].”
As expected, the Devils’ top offensive talent made up one line and Harrold played in place of Larsson.
Talking union blues
The NHL notified the NHLPA Wednesday morning that the league wanted to modify the collective bargaining agreement, according to a report in Sports Business Daily. The decision was not surprising as the CBA was set to expire on Sept. 15.
The question is whether the league fired a shot in a looming labor war, or if it was an instance of sound and fury signifying nothing. The 2004-05 lockout fundamentally changed the NHL’s business practices as all 30 of the league’s franchises operate under a hard salary cap system that includes a salary floor. Yet a recent story in Forbes Magazine reported that 18 of the 30 franchises operated in the red.
However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has publicly stated that the league has experienced revenue generating years in each of the last seven seasons, including $3.2 billion in 2011-12. Two of the primary revenue-generators for the league have been the Winter Classic and the league’s 10-year, $2 billion television partnership with NBC.
The agreement with NBC has already benefitted the league with record television ratings during this playoff season. Next year’s Winter Classic will take place at Michigan Stadium, which should set a North American hockey attendance record. The teams involved are the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Is Ryan Callahan in the midst of a scoring slump?
The captain of the Rangers leads all Blueshirts forwards with an average of 24:06 of ice time. He has six points — three goals and three assists — in the 15 playoff games played before Wednesday night’s Game 2. Yet he has not scored a goal since Game 3 against the Capitals and has not recorded an assist since Game 5 of that series.
What he has continued to do is play his game. He had 68 hits and 26 blocked shots going into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
“Depends on the player,” Tortorella said in response to a question regarding his philosophy on working with a struggling player. “Depends on the player, depends on the situation. It’s a question I can’t answer because it all depends on the situation.” When Callahan’s name was mentioned, Tortorella responded, “I won’t answer.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.