Say this about Peter DeBoer — he doesn’t throw guys under the bus.
The New Jersey Devils coach could’ve easily done that with Anton Volchenkov in the wake of the “defenseman” (using that term loosely) being on the ice for 90 percent of Florida’s goals through four games of their first-round series.
But, DeBoer didn’t.
“You look at the situation, he has had some bad luck and bad timing, personal responsibility probably only a couple of them,” the Devils coach told CBC. “I feel for him, it’s Murphy’s Law, whatever can go wrong is going wrong for him right now.”
It’s not that Volchenkov (minus-2) has the worst rating of the playoffs — that distinction goes to Detroit’s Brad Stuart, who is minus-5 — it’s just that, every time he steps on the ice, something bad happens.
He’s been on the ice for even-strength goals (three), five-on-four goals (five) and five-on-three goals (one). The only time he wasn’t on for a Panthers goal was late in Game 2 when the Devils were pushing for an equalizing goal with Martin Brodeur pulled. Tomas Fleischmann scored into an empty net, preventing Volchenkov from suffering the ignominy of 10 for 10.
DeBoer said he realized Volchenkov is struggling at the moment, but stressed the veteran blueliner needs to fight through it.
“He has to battle through that,” DeBoer said. “He has been a valuable part of the team all year and a guy who has risen in the playoffs in Ottawa.
“He’s a battle-tested guy. We need him in the lineup.”
If Volchenkov continues to struggle, the Devils may turn to rookie Adam Larsson as his replacement. The 19-year-old played very well in the first half of the season but waned down the stretch, ending up a healthy scratch on numerous occasions.