Devils’ Anssi Salmela puts bitterness aside, raises level of play

When he was placed on waivers Jan. 13, defenseman Anssi Salmela felt some momentary bitterness towards the Devils and general manager Lou Lamoriello.

But it didn’t last long.

“The day you’re put on waivers, you do,” Salmela said honestly. “There are so many thoughts in your mind.

“But I won’t say I have hard feelings against the team or the organization. I’m disappointed for myself. I probably didn’t do as good as I could. It’s normal.”

Lamoriello said he was giving Salmela a chance to be claimed by another club because he was, at least temporarily, out of the Devils’ picture. But no one claimed the 26-year-old Swede and the Devils needed him when Anton Volchenkov attended the funeral of his father and the team had injury problems on defense.

Salmela has now played the last five games and will be in the lineup tonight against the Florida Panthers after a strong game in a win over the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday.

“He played great last night,” Lemaire said. “He sat for a while. As you know, he wasn’t part of the lineup for a few games and it looked like he wouldn’t come back for maybe a little while. But he came back and played good. If he stays like that, he’s going to play.

“He’s got the tools. It’s not that. He has to keep his mind in the game, keep doing the little things, keep playing what I call a safe game. Not a game that you don’t know what is next.”

Watch Anssi’s Game Winning Assist as the Devils Beat the Maple Leafs 2-1 in OT Thursday 2/10/2011

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