Devils coach Pete DeBoer hinted at lineup changes Sunday morning.
He made it abundantly clear Monday morning that he made modifications to the Devils’ lineup.
Dainius Zubrus replaced Ilya Kovalchuk as the Devils’ top line right wing for Monday night’s Game 4. Kovalchuk skated on the second line with Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias, while Jacob Josefson replaced Petr Sykora in the lineup.
Last night’s game was Josefson’s first game action since suffering a broken wrist in the Devils’ 3-1 win over the Islanders on April 3.
“Sykora's out and Josefson is in,” DeBoer said during his morning availability. “I had a brief conversation with [Josefson] yesterday. [I] basically [told him to] bring us some energy [and] play like you did the last three, four weeks of the season. He's had a tough year between the injuries and the adversity, really over the last two years. I really felt the last two, three weeks of the season he had re-found his game and his confidence. If we can get a version of that player in the lineup tonight, we'll be a better team.”
DeBoer said the decision to make the lineup alterations had to do with the Devils having been shutout, 3-0, in Game 3 despite outshooting the Rangers, 36-22.
“It was tough to shake things up in that I felt we played a solid game,” DeBoer said. “What pushed me in this direction is just the availability of another very good player in Josefson. He hadn't been available up until this point. So he's available. It's tough decisions when you're sitting out Sykora, who has played well for us this year and scored some goals. But those are the decisions we have to make.”
Prust change still open
Rangers head coach John Tortorella did not tip his hand regarding who would replace the suspended Brandon Prust in the lineup for Game 4 during his media availability Monday morning.
“I don’t know what my lineup is,” Tortorella said.
Stu Bickel, who was replaced in the lineup by Steve Eminger for Game 3, dressed last night.
Tortorella said he had “no update” on the condition of Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky injured his right foot during the Eastern Conference quarterfinal series against Ottawa. He missed the entirety of the seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series against Washington and the first three games of the Eastern Conference finals.
Dubinsky has been skating with the Rangers, and began to participate in contact drills.
“Nice to be back with the guys; nice to shoot some pucks at the goalie. It just feels good to be around,” Dubinsky said after Sunday’s practice at the Garden. When asked for his status, Dubinsky said he was going to follow Tortorella’s rules again: “No timeline.”
Follow Rangers beat writer Denis Gorman on Twitter @DenisGorman.