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Lindy Ruff Grills Devils Reporter Over Alexander Holtz Ice Time Question

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The New Jersey Devils dropped a discouraging two points on Wednesday night on home ice. A sneaky, but ultimately inferior Montreal Canadiens team took two points in regulation after the Devils clawed their way back from a two-goal deficit. Part of their comeback came at the hands of Devils forward Alexander Holtz. Yet, Holtz’s ice time decreased after contributing to Wednesday night’s potential solution before they ultimately lost. After the Devils’ head coach was asked about Holtz’s decreased ice time, Lindy Ruff grilled the Devils reporter who asked the question.

Down a goal in the third period after Luke Hughes scored on the power-play, Holtz tied the game with a power-play clapper of his own. Yet, the result of Holtz contributing to the third-period comeback wasn’t a reward. In fact, he played just two more shifts in the final 18 minutes of the third frame after putting the puck in the back of the net.

So what was the justification?

“You don’t watch the game very well,” Ruff responded to Ryan Novozinsky of NJ.com. “If you look at the opportunity in the second period where (Holtz) threw the puck in the middle of the ice, you get a point-blank scoring chance. In a tight game, in a one-goal game, it’s plays like that where we’re trying to get back in the game and we drop down to three lines. We happened to get back in the game.

“He understands, we’re trying to eliminate the pucks that go into the middle of the ice, the puck management part. So when you make a play like that then it’s going to be hard to get back onto the ice because we just gave them a quality scoring chance off a play where we put it in the middle of the ice where we didn’t need to put it in the middle of the ice. Yeah, I liked his power-play goal, a couple of other things I liked, but is he going to make the same play again?”

This isn’t the first time Ruff has been asked about Holtz’s ice time this season.

Holtz has spent the majority of his playing time in the bottom six of the Devils’ lineup. Hotlz was asked about his ice time earlier this season and he wore his heart on his sleeve in his response.

“I don’t know, it’s hard to say,” Holtz explained in frustration. “Some games I don’t play that much. I’m just trying to focus to get better every day and show them I’m able to play more.”

At the time, Holtz was dead last with a negative 48-66 scoring differential among all Devils’ skaters.

So what was Ruff’s suggestion to increase the Swedish forward’s ice time?

“I always tell the players, ‘If you want to play more don’t get scored against,’” Ruff explained in November. “Really, it comes down to that. He’s not the only player. We had a meeting today on that side of the puck. We talked about what went wrong in some of our tracking situations. If you’re on the ice getting scored against and you’re not scoring then it’s tough to get ice time.”

Perhaps that’s where Ruff’s frustration stems from on Wednesday night. It’s a question that’s continued to be asked by all New Jersey media, although it is a fair question.

Holtz finished the game against the Canadiens with just 8:07 of ice time and four shots on goal.

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