Defencemen feed off chemistry, too

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:24 PM ET

MONTREAL -- Henrik Tallinder can't really describe it.

The New Jersey Devils defenceman just knows when it's there.

A lot is made of chemistry among forwards, but it's just as important between defencemen.

Tallinder left the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent after last season, and Tyler Myers -- who was named rookie of the year after last season playing with Tallinder -- has struggled this season.

Anton Volchenkov left the Ottawa Senators to sign with the Devils, and his old partner in Ottawa, Chris Phillips, hasn't been the same (although you could say that of the entire Ottawa defence).

"It's fun when it happens, when you find that chemistry," Tallinder said. "I was more of the defensive guy and (Myers) was the offensive guy. He brought so much enthusiasm and I brought the 'take it easy, bud,' approach. We fed off each other."

Hall of Famer Larry Robinson, now an assistant with the Devils, played for seven years with Serge Savard on those great Montreal Canadiens teams of the 1970s.

"You can't underestimate how important it is," Robinson said of having a partner you can trust. "You see and think the game the same way and you know what the other guy is going to do before he does it."

In these days of the salary cap and free agency, it looks like those relationships will be less frequent or at least won't last as long.

HEAR AND THERE: One pro scout who has seen 19 or 20 teams live said the best player he has watched so far is Chicago's Marian Hossa. "Three things," the scout said. "His pace, his strength and he never takes a shift off." ... Canadian broadcaster Christine Simpson makes her movie debut next week in the latest instalment of the SAW horror franchise "SAW 3D." She plays a -- wait for it -- TV interviewer. Does she endure a grisly death? "No. That's my biggest disappointment," she said after working Thursday night's Devils-Habs game for the MSG Network. "That's what everybody asks, 'do you get killed?' " She'll be at the premiere Wednesday in L.A., and the movie opens elsewhere Friday.

THE BUZZ: Edmonton's Taylor Hall hasn't scored his first goal yet, but the top pick in the 2010 draft did everything but Thursday night. The Oilers rookie directed 11 shots at the Minnesota Wild net (six missed, three blocked) and might have been the best player on the ice ... You'd think it would be a simple thing, but the Atlanta Thrashers have had three too-many-men penalties already this season. "Our changes were horrendous," said coach Craig Ramsay, pointing out that players are staying on the ice way too long -- 75 seconds in some cases -- and creating confusion. "You cannot play at a pace we want to play if you don't change." Ramsay, along with Tampa Bay Lightning coach Guy Boucher, are wanting some shifts as short at 30 seconds.

JUST SAYING: Good to see the folks in Phoenix rallying behind the Coyotes after news a new owner could be in place soon. They announced 6,706 spectators at Thursday's game, but tough guy Paul Bissonnette tweeted that it was more like 5,000. "Did people think it was an 11 o'clock start?" he wondered ... With a franchise record-low 8,820 announced for Wednesday's game against Buffalo, watch for the relocation talk to pick up around the Atlanta Thrashers ... Steven Tyler yelled the national anthem at the Bruins game Thursday. Aerosmith has been great, but Tyler has less range than Jaroslav Spacek.

JUST WONDERING: Interesting to see G Cory Schneider was set to get the start Friday night for the Vancouver Canucks against Minnesota. Two starts in one week? When else has that happened when Roberto Luongo wasn't hurt? ... Speaking of reducing the workload for starters, Johan Hedberg is set to get his first start for the Devils Saturday, giving Martin Brodeur a breather.

PARTING SHOT: New York Rangers goaltender Martin Biron looked into getting a place in Manhattan when he signed with the Blueshirts, but gulped and settled for a spot closer to the practice rink. He also looked sideways at a $90,000 price-tag to send two of his four kids to private school in Manhattan. "Geez," he said, "what kind of fingerpaint are they using?"

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chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca


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