At one point, the Devils were tearing through the Eastern Conference, beating the Penguins and New York Rangers night in and night out. Recently, they have gone 1-3-1 and are in danger of dropping to the seventh seed in the playoffs, where they would face the Boston Bruins in the first round.
DeBoer will go with an entirely new look for tonight's game against the Chicago Blackhawks, dropping veteran Petr Sykora to the fourth line and starting Adam Henrique as a winger on the second line. Here is a full recap of the new lines, courtesy of Rich Chere of The Star Ledger:
Zach Parise - Patrik Elias - Dainius Zubrus
Adam Henrique - Travis Zajac - Ilya Kovalchuk
Alexei Ponikarovsky - Jacob Josefson - David Clarkson
Petr Sykora - Ryan Carter - Steve Bernier
This is the second game in a row that DeBoer has changed the lines, which is significant considering the Devils used the same lines for the majority of the season. While the changes are significant, some of the players don't believe it will be a problem.
"I don't think it's something we need to be concerned about. As long as we're not doing it on a daily basis," captain Zach Parise told The Star Ledger. "I'm sure they want to keep things the way they are now or find something so everyone is comfortable going into the postseason."
Should Pete DeBoer Change His Lines This Late in the Year?
But is it becoming a daily basis? As stated, the Devils also changed their lines before the Pittsburgh game, but after scoring two goals they still lost by three goals. If New Jersey drops another game tonight against Chicago, does that mean DeBoer will change things again?
There will also be a change on defense tonight, as rookie sensation Adam Larsson will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season. Larsson has struggled in the past few games, and DeBoer believes sitting the 19-year old will mentally prepare him for the playoffs.
"I think it will help Adam to sit upstairs and watch a game," DeBoer told Tom Gulitti. "This has been a progression and we didn't just jump into this decision."
It seems as though there are a lot of changes happening in New Jersey with just six games left in the season.
With Henrique changing positions for the first time all season, Sykora dropping from the two line to four, and Larsson sitting out for the first time all year, all this change may break some of the chemistry the team has built and may have them struggling to gain momentum.
Granted, the Devils could win tonight and DeBoer will be praised for his change. But after making changes before a huge game against Pittsburgh and failing, there is only so many times the lines can be shuffled before the team doesn't respond.