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Lightning vs. Hurricanes
Tracking the Storm

Devils' Top Line Giving Canes Fits

Monday, 04.20.2009 / 3:26 PM / Tracking the Storm
By Paul Branecky
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Devils\' Top Line Giving Canes Fits
As hard as it may be to become an offensive force in a series that has become more defensive by the game, the Devils’ top line has done exactly that.

Paul Branecky
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Led by Zach Parise, who is proving that his 45-goal regular season was no fluke, that unit has accounted for five of New Jersey’s eight goals thus far. Even after losing right wing Jamie Langenbrunner in Game 2, they didn’t miss a beat with veteran Brian Rolston taking his place.

“They’re clearly playing exceptionally well, they’ve got great hands and their work ethic I think is probably what they bring every night,” said Canes Coach Paul Maurice. 

Travis Zajac, who centers the trio, scored the overtime winner in Game 3. He hadn’t scored a goal since March 17 prior to that, although his all-around play and two assists in the series didn’t make that much of a concern.

Although that was certainly Zajac’s turn in the spotlight, the star of the series has undoubtedly been Parise, whose five points have him in a four-way tie for second place among all playoff scorers.

“We need to do a better job on him,” said Maurice. “I’m not sure he necessarily needs a shadow, but certainly a better awareness of when he has the puck. He seems to be able to hold onto it a lot longer than we’d like.

“Taking the puck from him wasn’t something that other teams had been able to do over the 82-game regular season, and I don’t think it’s going to be any easier in the playoffs for us.”

Not unlike the Devils, the Canes scored a lot of goals in the regular season by forcing turnovers from the opposition’s more offensive-minded players and moving quickly in the other direction. Given the way Parise and company have been playing in this series, that simply may not be a possibility.

“We’ll try to match that and understand that when they have the puck, we’re not looking to steal it to go to offense,” said Maurice. “We’re just looking to shut them down.”

 “We’ve just got to finish our checks, play hard, skate hard, play solid defense and know when they’re out there,” said Tuomo Ruutu. “Obviously, they’re a great line.”

Two of Parise’s goals have come from redirects from point shots, which Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward has had absolutely no chance to stop. Those unfamiliar with the 5-foot-11 forward’s resume might not expect that from a smaller, speedier player, as that skill set is seen more often with bigger, more powerful players who make their living parked in front of the opposition’s goal.

“He comes through there and you’ve got to be aware of him,” said Eric Staal. “You’ve got to be aware of his stick, and guys who score that many goals during the year find that area and find that puck, so you’ve got to make sure you tying up that stick and being hard on him. You’ve got to be more aware of him than we have been.”

While shutting down the Devils’ top unit will undoubtedly be a team effort, Maurice said the coaching staff will consider making a lineup change on the defensive end. Dennis Seidenberg, a reliable shot-blocker, has been a healthy scratch for each of the last two games.

“We’ve got seven healthy defensemen, and we believe in all of them,” said Maurice. “We’ll look at that for tomorrow, as we do after every game.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 TBL 48 30 14 4 156 127 64
2 NYI 46 31 14 1 151 129 63
3 DET 47 27 11 9 139 119 63
4 MTL 45 29 13 3 123 106 61
5 PIT 46 26 12 8 138 117 60
6 NYR 44 27 13 4 134 106 58
7 WSH 46 24 13 9 137 120 57
8 BOS 48 25 16 7 126 121 57
9 FLA 44 20 14 10 107 122 50
10 OTT 46 19 18 9 126 128 47
11 TOR 48 22 23 3 142 150 47
12 PHI 48 19 22 7 130 146 45
13 CBJ 45 20 22 3 113 142 43
14 NJD 47 17 22 8 107 134 42
15 CAR 46 16 25 5 98 120 37
16 BUF 47 14 30 3 89 167 31

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
E. Staal 41 15 13 -8 28
J. Faulk 46 8 18 -14 26
J. Skinner 41 10 9 -7 19
E. Lindholm 46 9 10 -10 19
R. Nash 46 7 12 -4 19
J. Tlusty 39 11 7 -12 18
N. Gerbe 42 4 13 -2 17
V. Rask 46 6 9 -9 15
A. Sekera 44 1 14 -8 15
C. Terry 33 6 3 -3 9
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Khudobin 5 8 2 .916 2.32
C. Ward 11 17 3 .911 2.45