With just 36 games remaining, the New Jersey Devils realize each point picks up more importance. A light week ahead, with two games against non-playoff teams, highlight just how much the team needs to continue it's solid second half.
The Devils enter the week sixth in the Eastern Conference, two points ahead of the Ottawa Senators. They are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games, a stretch that's better than three of the teams in the top eight spots. But they're still mired in fourth place in their division, 11 points behind the first-place New York Rangers.
New Jersey played .500 hockey last week, going 2-1-1 in four games. They began the week with two straight wins, stretching a winning streak that started after the All-Star break. The team defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins, 5-2, last Sunday at the Prudential Center. The game featured Anton Volchenkov's first goal as a Devil, coming at 9:33 of the first period. Ilya Kovalchuk led all skaters with three points (1g, 2a).
The Devils continued their win streak Tuesday, blanking the Rangers, 1-0. The game featured two fights right after the opening faceoff, with both Cam Janssen and Eric Boulton dropping the gloves. Later in the period, David Clarkson scored the powerplay goal. Martin Brodeur stopped 30 shots, and the Devils survived a late no-goal call to pick up the win.
The St. Louis Blues would end the Devils win streak Thursday, skating away from Prudential Center with a 4-3 shootout win. Patrick Berglund tied the game late for the Blues, tying the game at three with 5:50 remaining in regulation. After a scoreless overtime period, T.J. Oshie scored the game-winner in the second round of the shootout. Johan Hedberg stopped 23 shots in the loss.
New Jersey's losing streak hit two as they lost to the Florida Panthers, 3-1, Saturday afternoon on home ice. Steve Bernier scored early, but that would be all for the Devils. Florida scored three straight times, with Kris Versteeg scoring the game-winner in the second period. Scott Clemmensen, a former Devil, improved to 4-0-0.
This week, the Devils face off against the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks. New Jersey travels to Buffalo on Valentines Day to take on the 14th place Sabres. Buffalo is just 5-4-1 in their last 10 games, and enter the week one game under NHL-.500. They're just 13-10-6 on home ice this season. The Devils have won two of three meetings this season.
Anaheim travels to the Prudential Center Friday for the only meeting of the season between the two teams. The Ducks have been one of the hotter teams since the All-Star break, going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games. They enter the week 13th in the Western Conference, just nine points back of the eighth-place Phoenix Coyotes.
Goals: Ilya Kovalchuk - 22
Assists: Patrik Elias - 34
Points: Patrik Elias - 53
Plus/Minus: Bryce Salvador - +11
PIM: David Clarkson - 88
Wins: Martin Brodeur - 18
GAA: Johan Hedberg - 2.53
Save Percentage: Johan Hedberg - .908
Shutouts: Johan Hedberg - 2