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At the Rink blog

DeBoer putting Zajac back on top line with Kovalchuk

Tuesday, 02.05.2013 / 11:52 AM

By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer / 2012-2013 At the Rink blog

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2012-2013 At the Rink blog
DeBoer putting Zajac back on top line with Kovalchuk

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer will tweak his top two lines in preparation for the New York Rangers on Tuesday at Prudential Center.

During the team's morning skate, DeBoer flipped centermen Travis Zajac and Adam Henrique. Zajac was working the top unit alongside Dainius Zubrus and Ilya Kovalchuk. Henrique, meanwhile, was between Patrik Elias and David Clarkson. Henrique skated with Zubrus and Kovalchuk in New Jersey's 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Sunday.

Elias was asked what makes Zajac and Henrique unique.

"Right now, Travis is more responsible defensively, and that's what he has always put an emphasis on," Elias told NHL.com. "Ricco still takes chances offensively as a center guy, and that's fine, but he's just got to realize who you're playing with.

"Both are good with the puck. They're not going to go in and finish a check with a big hit, but they're quick to get off the puck and strong. In that way, they are very similar."

DeBoer confirmed after practice that defensemen Peter Harrold and Henrik Tallinder and forward Stefan Matteau would sit out as healthy scratches against the Rangers.

Henrique, who will be playing his fourth game since returning from thumb surgery, said there are areas in his game that he needs to improve.

"I still want to be consistent every night in all areas of the game by doing the little things right: chipping the puck in and chipping the puck out," Henrique said. "I've got to take care of my own end. I feel I can improve in the offensive zone, hanging onto the puck and controlling it down low. I feel that will come with experience."

Zubrus agrees with Henrique's personal assessment.

"I think Travis has that experience," Zubrus told NHL.com. "Thing is, Travis is one of the better two-way players in the League in his own zone and down low. He's good in the battles and in scrums with the puck. Travis is almost like our [Patrice] Bergeron from Boston [Bruins]. He wins faceoffs. His value is tough to describe because he's good in so many areas."

Here are the possible line combinations for the Devils:

Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk

Patrik Elias - Adam Henrique - David Clarkson

Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier

Krys Barch - Jacob Josefson - Bobby Butler

Bryce Salvador - Mark Fayne

Anton Volchenkov - Marek Zidlicky

Andy Greene - Adam Larsson

Martin Brodeur

Johan Hedberg

Injured: None

Scratched: Peter Harrold, Stefan Matteau, Henrik Tallinder

Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres