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New Jersey Devils vs. New York Islanders - Preseason Game #5 Preview

The Date: September 29, 2009

The Time: 7 PM EST

The Place: The Prudential Center a.k.a. The Rock

The Broadcast: No TV - streaming audio only (660 AM gets you the Mets not the Devils)

What Happened Last Time: The New Jersey Devils won at Nassau, 4-2.

The Goal:  For the veterans, this is the final "dress rehearsal;" while for the prospects and fringe players, this is their last audition.  Starting Saturday, the games start to count.  The results begin to matter. The expectations will be risen and the tolerance for stupid mistakes drop even further.

Per Gulitti's report on Monday, he has this preliminary lineup. 

Zach Parise - Travis Zajac - Jamie Langenbrunner
Brian Rolston - Dainius Zubrus - David Clarkson
Brendan Shanahan - Rob Niedermayer - Nicklas Bergfors
Andrew Peters - Rod Pelley - Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

Paul Martin - Johnny Oduya
Pick 4 out of these 5: Colin White, Bryce Salvador, Andy Greene, Cory Murphy, Jay Leach

Martin Brodeur
Yann Danis

Notice how it has 7 defenseman, Mike Mottau is out but will obviously be on the team.  One of them will sit. But who?  I'm actually a little surprised Jay Leach is still in consideration, maybe it'll be him? It'll be real interesting if both Murphy and Greene get to play.  Murphy will have to continue putting up points, and Greene would do well to, well, put up at least something in the game.

In terms of forwards, notice how there really isn't a checking line.  Three lines of scoring range and "tough guy" line.  Um, interesting.  Moreso when Lemaire told Gulitti after Saturday's game that he didn't think the Rolston-Zubrus-Clarkson line had good chemistry.y.  Hmm.  This is provisional, but maybe Lemaire wants to give them another chance?  Read on for further thoughts in advance of tonight's game. Remember, as usual, breaking news may render some of this completely moot.  Keep that in mind.

First glance at this tells me that it's definitely not good news for Matt Halischuk fans in New Jersey.  That he's not selected ahead of Jay Pandolfo - who will not play tonight - may mean he could be gone on Wednesday. Surprisingly, Ilkka Pikkarainen isn't in this as well. If Leblond is getting another look, why doesn't Pikkarainen get one instead of, say, playing Peters for a fourth straight game? 

Moving onward, Rod Pelley getting the nod over Tim Sestito in the last preseason game has to be a sign of confidence. We'll see how he handles centering two "enforcer" wingers. If he can match their energy and physical play and generally have a good game, that could seal a spot on the New Jersey roster.  As for Nicklas Bergfors, who has done well all throughout preseason, all I think he has to do is keep playing well.  If he continues to do so, then he's in for at least the start of the the season.

Unsurprisingly, Rob Niedermayer will play his first preseason game with the team.  In the same report by Gulitti and confirmed by this post by Chere, Niedermayer's conditioning doesn't seem to be too much of an issue.  We'll see how it goes in a game, but it's good that he didn't arrive out of shape.   He'll be worked though, as Lemaire may have the Devils press forward often.  Lemaire commented to Gulitti today that the Devils "sat back" in a 1-2-2 in the second period against Philadelphia, but not at all in the third - and Lemaire wants the Devils to replicate that third period performance.  Jeff Klein at the NY Times seems to get it, will anyone else in the media want to throw away their assumptions for the truth?  Who knows.

Martin Brodeur is expected to play the whole game, which is just fine. Anything to get into the groove for two home games against rivals to start the season. 

As far as tonight's opponents, they are basically in the same boat.  It's the Islanders' last preseason game and Dominik at Lighthouse Hockey is pretty sure their final cuts will come after the game.  Dominik highlights who was lined up in practice yesterday and it could give some insight as to who will play tonight for the Islanders.  Per the Isles Files, Kyle Okposo, Doug Weight, and Calvin de Haan are injured and so they won't play tonight.  Check out Lighthouse Hockey later on for Dom's perspective on tonight's game.

As far as tonight's game, I'll be at my usual seat in Section 1, Row 16, Seat 5.  I wish all the Devils the best of luck in tonight's game.  Steve will take care of the GameThread tonight; check out Gulitti and Chere for up-to-date news. Feel free to use this comments thread to discuss the game in advance.  Talk about the latest news, who you think needs to have a good game tonight, what you'd like the Devils to do in tonight's game, and whatever else related to tonight's game.