Apr 3, 2012, 11:37 AM EST
The lead graph from Rich Chere’s piece in the New Jersey Star-Ledger says it all.
If the Devils opened the Stanley Cup playoffs tomorrow, Peter Harrold would be in the lineup and rookie Adam Larsson would be watching.
On the surface, this seems like a strange decision. Larsson — 6-foot-3, 220-pounds — played 64 games this season (2G-16A-18PTS) and was selected to represent the Devils at the 2012 NHL All-Star Rookie SuperSkills Competition.
Harrold — 5-foot-11, 195-pounds — has played eight after a late-season recall from AHL Albany.
While this decision might seem “unusual” (Chere’s word, not ours) Devils head coach Peter DeBoer thinks it’s a perfectly normal choice to make. Larsson has struggled returning from injury and Harrold has been part of a lineup that’s won three straight.
“It’s the NHL and we’re here to win games,” DeBoer said. “We’re going to put the best possible lineup on the ice to win games. Sentimental feelings don’t go into it a lot. I understand it’s a tough spot for [Larsson], but you’re in the best league in the world and that comes with the job.”
Larsson has been a healthy scratch for the last three games, and it appears No. 4 will happen tonight against the Islanders. If it does, that leaves DeBoer and the Devils just two more regular season games — Thursday against Detroit, Saturday against Ottawa — to figure out if the fourth overall choice at the 2011 draft will play in the 2012 postseason.
For what it’s worth, DeBoer says he hasn’t ruled out playing Larsson in the playoffs.
“I’m very confident we’re going to get back a motivated young man and I think a guy who is going to be a valuable part for us,” he told the Star-Ledger. “It’s just a matter of when.”
It should be noted that, prior to getting parked, Larsson was third among all Devils defensemen in average ice time (20:44 per game), second only to Henrik Tallinder and the recently-acquired Marek Zidlicky.
- Lou Lamoriello unveils highly unorthodox coaching plan 28
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities 2
- NHL on NBCSN: Can Capitals take advantage of depleted Penguins? 2
- Team Canada crushes Slovakia 14
- Criticism spreads to GM Lou Lamoriello after Devils fire DeBoer 10
- Eichel earns assist and scores in shootout as U.S. squeaks by Finland 2
- Canada enters World Juniors as 11/10 favorite; USA next at 9/4 5
- Devils fire DeBoer 21
- More mumps: Downie and Greiss test positive 7
- Orpik reflects on ‘outside pressure’ in Pittsburgh 21
- Sabres aren’t happy with league’s decision regarding Bartkowski (76)
- Report: NHL won’t hold hearing for Bartkowski hit (55)
- Video: Bartkowski delivers controversial hit to Gionta, fights Foligno (47)
- Could Malkin be the next player to be fined for diving? (43)
- Panthers hold off Penguins for shootout win (42)