NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The New Jersey Devils are fighting for a playoff spot. They need everyone on the same page.
So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to upset their best offensive player.
Or does it? Coach Peter DeBoer seems to think the risk is worth the potential reward.
DeBoer is moving Travis Zajac off Jaromir Jagr’s line, which has the 41-year-old legend, who has in the past said he prefers his playing partners be kept consistent, just a bit miffed, NorthJersey.com reported Wednesday.
“It doesn’t make sense to me and I don’t want to talk about it either,” Jagr said. “I don’t really [care] either.”
With 48 points, including 17 goals, in 57 games so far this season, Jagr is continuing to put up numbers in a career that has been as great as any the NHL has ever seen. He is two goals short of 700 and his 1,736 points are seventh in league history.
But, as DeBoer explained to NorthJersey.com, the Devils as a team are having problems scoring goals, averaging just 2.33 per game. And they need the offense badly because they are currently three points out of third place in the Metropolitan Division and the second wild card in the Eastern Conference with 25 games to play. If the Devils jump into either position they will make the playoffs.
“I know Jags likes consistent linemates,” DeBoer said. “Some guys prefer that. Some guys don’t mind change. I know he’s said before that he likes to play with the same guys. At the same time, that only works if you’re getting consistent production and we haven’t gotten enough there recently.”
The hope is Zajac, who had eight points in six games prior to the Devils’ 2-1 overtime loss to Colorado on Monday, can jump-start a line featuring Patrik Elias and Damien Brunner, DeBoer said. Andrei Loktionov will take Zajac’s place centering Jagr and Dainius Zubrus, the Devils’ coach added.
The Devils have two games remaining before the Olympic break, home against lowly Edmonton on Friday and at Washington on Saturday.
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