When people talk about the Devils’ aggressive forecheck, most of the discussion involves the forwards. After all, the forwards are the ones chasing down pucks and turning them over.
But New Jersey captain Zach Parise knows the importance of an active defense to the style his team plays.
“That’s so important,” he said today. “It’s hard when your ‘D’ aren’t allowed to pinch and when your ‘D’ aren’t allowed to get involved, because you’re playing 3-on-5 all night. That’s too hard. It makes the game too hard and it makes scoring too hard. Once our ‘D’ started to be allowed to jump into the play and get involved in the offense, it opened some things up for everybody.
“It opens up second opportunities. You’re allowed to get more offensive zone time. They’ve done a great job in the playoffs keeping pucks alive, keeping cycles going and really hemming teams in their own zone. From a forward’s standpoint, it’s kind of a relief to get those ‘D’ men involved. It just makes life a lot easier.”
One defenseman in particular Parise says has helped is Marek Zidlicky. The Devils acquired the underutilized 35-year-old from Minnesota in February, sending defenseman Kurtis Foster and forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux to the Wild in return.
“[Zidlicky’s] skating ability, his patience with the puck has really helped us out a lot up front and kept plays alive,” said Parise. “He makes a great first outlet pass. That was a really good acquisition for us that really gave us a new attack and a new dynamic that we were somewhat lacking.”