DeBoer: Splitting rookie defense pair not a permanent move

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The New Jersey Devils have been getting outstanding play from a pair of rookie defensemen this season. Eric Gelinas and Jon Merrill have jumped into the NHL and done so seamlessly. They’ve also been paired up together since arriving from Albany.

That is they were paired up together. Devils coach Peter DeBoer broke up the pair in the Devils’ 3-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but as Rich Chere of The Star-Ledger shares, breakups aren’t forever.

“I thought we got what we wanted (in the last two periods Friday) night and I thought our defense group was good again (Saturday) night,” DeBoer said. “When I say (I) split them up, I’m sure they’re going to play together again. It just might not be in the next game or two.”

Gelinas is third amongst Devils defensemen in points with 13, trailing only Andy Greene and Marek Zidlicky. Those two veterans average more ice time per game than the rookie, as you’d expect, but Gelinas’ play has impressed this season. 

Merrill has averaged over 17 minutes per game in his 12 games of action this year. He has one assist and has a minus-5 rating.