New Jersey is 0-2-1 heading into tonight's game in HSBC Arena and will be dressing only 16 skaters to due to its ongoing salary cap concerns. And you can sense the tension around the Kovalchuks, er, Devils.
First-year coach John MacLean threw his team off the ice and ended their morning skate today after less than 20 minutes following an errant pass from star Zach Parise. MacLean had stopped it a few minutes earlier and uttered a few profanities while ordering a drill restarted.
"I thought it was just too laissez faire for a team that hasn't won a game yet," MacLean said. "It's not desperation. It's an air of professionalism. We have to be ready to play the game. That's what I'm looking for."
Former Sabre Adam Mair was signed yesterday to add to the Devils' lineup. Mair had a good camp but had to wait for a contract while cap issues were dealt with.
"Expectations here are so high and they should be," Mair said. "They have a history of success. We want to win a Stanley Cup like they've done here. We have to let our skill take over. We can't be overthinking and let the expectations create uneasiness. We just have to go play our game."
It will also be the first game back for Devils defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who signed a four-year deal after the Sabres disappointed him by only offering two.
"I was disappointed," Tallinder said. "It would have been a lot of security coming back. You wouldn't have to adjust to a new system, new faces, new team. But in some ways it's kind of exciting too. A new adventure."
Mair said Sabres GM Darcy Regier never called him back after his end-of-season interview. Tallinder said Regier didn't call back after offering the two-year deal. You hear that all the time. Bizarre way to do business. Why not call and just say thanks and we're moving in another direction? Whatever.