EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Perhaps some coaches would feel the need to make lineup changes after losing the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final on home ice, but Peter DeBoer doesn't appear to be one of them.
The Devils are in a 2-0 series hole to the Kings with a virtual must-win game set for Monday night at Staples Center. New Jersey dropped Games 1 and 2 in overtime by identical 2-1 scores and have received their goals from defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who scored off a wild ricochet in Game 1, and fourth-liner Ryan Carter, who redirected a shot past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick in Game 2.
Healthy Williams gives L.A. a boostBy Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer
Justin Williams has had to deal with a host of injuries the last four seasons, but he is healthy now and has been a big contributor in the Kings' run to the Stanley Cup Final. READ MORE ›
DeBoer revealed no changes to his lineup during practice Sunday at Toyota Sports Center, and by the sounds of it, he doesn't plan on making any before Game 3.
"We're not making a change based on the hole we're in," DeBoer said. "We'll make a change if we feel there's someone that can make us a better lineup for tomorrow night. That's what we're making the decision on. Like I said, I thought our group played a good game last night."
The Devils have nothing but healthy scratches and are injury-free. Defensemen Henrik Tallinder and Adam Larsson are available, as is forward Petr Sykora. DeBoer hasn't made a lineup switch since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Rangers when he removed Sykora for Jacob Josefson, but it's not as though DeBoer isn't weighing his options.
"We look at every option after every game, win or lose," DeBoer said. "We want to put the best lineup on the ice. All those guys are a consideration after every game."
In Game 1, the Devils played poorly at the start but found their legs in the third period before falling in overtime. In Game 2, they were much improved, but once again came away with the same negative outcome.
The Devils were good, but not good enough against the Kings, but players appreciate the faith DeBoer is showing in them by not making any changes, a faith earned by rallying from deficits to win all three series on the way to the Cup Final.
"It doesn't surprise that things are sort of the same," forward Dainius Zubrus said. "We all know we could've won both of those games, yet here we are down 2-0. We know what works for us. We know we had some tough positions we've faced in the playoffs -- we were down against Philly, down against the Rangers and down against Florida too. You're going to have these moments in the playoffs and all we're looking to do is win one game."
"I think we showed before we've done it, and that's why our coaches and management believe in us," forward Alexei Ponikarovsky said. "That's the main thing. We moved our lines around a little bit, that was pretty much it."
During the third period of Game 2, DeBoer put Ilya Kovalchuk on the right wing with Zach Parise on the left wing and Travis Zajac at center. The only line that was left unchanged was the fourth line, which scored the only goal of Game 2 in the third period to force overtime.
"It's pretty much the same group that's gotten it done all playoffs," defenseman Andy Greene said. "We know the type of team we have and the way we play. Both games could've went either way, but they didn't. We have to focus on getting a win tomorrow night. We can't focus on lineup changes. Our only focus is getting a win tomorrow and it doesn't matter how or who's in there."
Tallinder was cleared to play before the Cup Final, but he hasn't been able to crack the lineup for New Jersey. He hasn't played since Jan. 17 due to a blood clot in his leg, but he made the six-hour, cross-country flight with the help of some extra walking and baby aspirin to improve his blood flow.
The Devils won't have a morning skate Monday with the 5 p.m. local time start, so it's very likely the combinations DeBoer used at Sunday's practice will be what he'll ice in Game 3. That doesn't mean Tallinder isn't champing at the bit to get back in the lineup.
"It's his call," Tallinder said. "The only words we've spoken is, 'Be ready, anything can happen and I'm comfortable putting you in there.' That's what he said. That's all I can comment."
Perhaps if the Devils fall into a 3-0 hole, changes will happen. But for now, DeBoer seems to believe he has the group that can win four of the next five games.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo