Right wing Matt Halischuk will become the Devils' fourth player this season to play in his first NHL game when they take on the Toronto Maple Leafs Wednesday night at Prudential Center. And they've only played eight games so far.
Halischuk and Nicklas Bergfors got a phone call from Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello on Monday night that they were being called up because of injuries to Jamie Langenbrunner (lower body bruise) Bobby Holik (fractured right pinky) and Brian Rolston (high right ankle sprain) and made the drive down from Lowell, Mass. together.
"It was a very exciting call," Halishcuk said.
Halischuk was not anticipating being nervous Wednesday night.
"I don't think so," he said. "It's more anxious to getting started, I think. I'm looking forward to gettin a good night's sleep and just getting prepared for tomorrow."
Halischuk, 20, suffered a groin injury during training camp, which prevented him from playing in any NHL preseason games. So, this will be his first NHL action of any kind.
Defenseman Anssi Salmela (now in Lowell), forward Petr Vrana, and left wing Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (cracked orbital bone) also played in their first NHL games for the Devils this season.
Bergfors, 21, played in one NHL game last season -- the 2007-08 opener in Tampa Bay-- and injured his shoulder. He spent the remainder of the season in Lowell after he recovered.
"It was long time ago," he said. "It feels like this is my first game."
Devils coach Brent Sutter is excited to see what Halischuk and Bergfors can do.
"You are putting young kids in, but they're good players," Sutter said. "So it gives them an opportunity to show us what they can do. We've lost two games in a row. We've got a few guys banged up, so it's a good time to see what these young guys can do."
When I asked Halischuk to compare the excitement of scoring the winning overtime goal for Canada in the World Junior Championships last year with playing in his first NHL game, he said, "They're two separate things. Obviously, that was a special moment (scoring the OT goal), but playing in the NHL is the next step."