The New Jersey Devils travel to HSBC Arena today for a 7pm faceoff against our Buffalo Sabres.  They bring with them free agent signing, Henrik Tallinder.  Upon arriving today, Tallinder had nothing but nice things to say about Buffalo. "I think about the positive things I had here, like the couple runs we had when we went to the Conference Finals and all the good memories with good guys. The friendly people too all over the town; you can feel the small town type of atmosphere."  As far as defending his old teammates he had this to say, "They're not afraid of me," he said with a laugh. "I think it's more them being afraid of what I know they're going to do…”  On being in HSBC arena as the AWAY team, "It was weird. You've been walking this hallway eight years and doing your own routine and you go always the same way, always the same things and now you have to make a right turn before the locker room so it was different."

The Devils also bring ex-Sabre, Adam Mair.  Mair was signed yesterday as the Devils freed up cap space by sending tough guy Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond to the AHL.  Devils coach John MacLean is probably happy just to have another body on the ice.  But he did shine praise on Mair saying, "He can play center, he can play right wing, he can play left wing. He kills penalties. We need that right now."  I think that’s a bit exaggerated and I’m still ok with the organ-i-zation letting go of Mair this off-season, but it’s nice to see him get some love.  Mair said, "I'm looking forward to being able to contribute and help…It will be nice to go back there and play those guys,…They're a little desperate we're desperate for a win. It should be a good game." 

I’m looking forward to seeing Mair and Tallinder on the ice tonight.  Both gave their heart & soul to the Sabres club and they have my respect as they return tonight as opposition.  It’ll be interesting to see if Mair gets into a scrap tonight.  The Devils sent their tough man to the AHL so Mair may be the next in line should someone be called upon to drop the mits.  I hope he doesn’t so I don’t have to decide who to root for.

The Devils have been fighting salary cap issues only skating 9 forwards in their last game instead of the usual 12.  Mair will be their 10th forward.  Basically they’re paying the first 9 guys too much and there’s nothing left to pay what would be the 4th line.  Devils GM, Lou Lamoriello says that he is working on fixing the problem.

Martin Brodeur will start in net tonight for New Jersey.  Anton Volchenkov and Brian Rolston will sit out with injuries for the Devils.  Brief Sabre, Dainius Zubrus skates for the Devils and will play.  Ilya Kovalchuk has yet to score this season.  The Devils are 0-2-1.     

As far as the home team goes I imagine Tyler Ennis will move up to first line to take Pominville’s spot.  The Stafford line is doing well and I think that Ruff would rather keep it together and wait for Pommer to come back than shuffle everything around.  Here’s what I imagine to be tonight’s lines (unofficial):

1)    Vanek-Connolly-Ennis

2)    Hecht-Roy-Stafford

3)    Gerbe-Niedermayer-Grier

4)    McCormick-Gaustad-Kaleta

I will post actual lines when I find out or see for myself on the ice.

Interesting stat of the day: Derek Roy leads the NHL in points (5) and goals (4) and has scored on 40% of shots taken (10).  Tyler Myers is a team worse (-5) on the season.  Tyler Ennis has 4 assists which is good for 2nd place in the NHL behind Colorado’s John-Michael Liles.  Ryan Miller will presumably start in net for Buffalo.        

Jason Pominville’s streak of 336 games will end tonight.  Pominville last missed a game on April 7, 2006 as a healthy scratch.  I am admittedly still distracted by the ongoing talk & debate over the Hjalmarsson hit.  Hopefully the Sabres team can put that out of their minds and focus on getting a W tonight.

Game Time: 7pm, HSBC Arena – Buffalo, NY