Brent Sutter has announce that Bobby Holik has recovered from his broken pinkie ( 🙄 ) and will return to the lineup for tonight’s game against the Canadians. According to Star Ledger’s Rich Chere, he was in practice and in a blue jersey, indicating that he will be on the fourth line.
Having Holik in the lineup means that Sutter needs to choose someone to sit out, and that someone is Mike Rupp.
While no explicit reason was give, it is evident that Sutter simply chose Rupp as he was the least producing forward in the lineup. With the exception of Rolston and P.L. Leblond, both who just returned to the roster from an injury, Rupp has the fewest points than any other forward.
If you don’t recall, Mike Rupp was the rookie who scored the game winning goal against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the game which won the Devils the Stanley Cup. Rupp was later shuffled around Phoenix and Columbus, and their minor league affiliates, before returning to the Devils roster back in 2006-07.
Last season Rupp saw 64 games, and had three goals. The season before, Rupp played in 76 games and scored double that number.
In Rupp’s defense, he’s a fourth liner – a line who doesn’t go out and score goals to win the game. But Sutter has really been working towards eliminating the “fourth line,” that is, the checking line, from the Devils roster. Instead, the Devils would be rolling four offensive lines that are a threat at all times to their opponent. This is somewhat of a change of the Devils previous infamous style of defense at all times, and score when the other team makes a mistake.
Thought on the Devils: I have been noticing that the Devils overall, even in some of their losses, have been playing very well. Their passes are good, their positioning on the ice is great, and they seem to be connecting better as a team on just about every level with the exception of special teams.
I’ve been informed that this means the Devils have good coaching. Lets hope this keeps up.
Whose on Fire: Looking at the most recent leader board, Zach Parise is on top of all three major categories (goals, assists, and points). Patrik Elias, Brian Gionta, and Travis Zajac have also played very well in their positions even with the injuries the Devils have suffered.
Two categories I like to look at is +/- and Shots. Go figure, Parise is first in those categories as well. As expected, though, the three other players mentioned earlier also find themselves high up in the Shots category. What’s also nice to see is that Devils defensemen are finding themselves high up in the +/- category. In fact, only four players have a negative +/- rating, Petr Vrana, Bryce Salvador, Jay Pandolfo, and John Madden. The first two I understand, the last two make me wonder what line they should be moved to.
With the slow return of Brian Rolston and now Bobby Holik, it will be interesting to see what they can now provide for the team as they find their niche back in the lineup.