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Devils Schedule 2011: Hot New Jersey Gets Some Time Off Before Sharks, Penguins

The Devils don't play until Friday, but New Jersey ends the week with a couple big games.

The New Jersey Devils can't be thrilled with this week's schedule. After three consecutive wins -- the last two in penalty shootouts -- the Devils are off until a Friday matchup against the San Jose Sharks. Until then, New Jersey will have to practice hard and attempt to bring the momentum into the end of the week.

New Jersey enters the week in fourth place in the Atlantic Division. The Devils are 3-1, but sit behind the Islanders, Flyers and division-leading Penguins because two of those wins came via shootout.

The Devils capped last week with a shootout victory against the Predators in their first road game of the young season. SB Nation's Devils blog, In Lou We Trust, has a comprehensive recap in case you missed the action.

Here are some keys to watch for the Devils this week.

1. Martin Brodeur has targeted this week for a return to the ice. The Devils' goaltender has missed time with a shoulder injury. Via the Star-Ledger:

"I really feel next week I should be on the ice before the next game we play. Sometimes that last little part takes longer, but I'm feeling really good. I'm real happy about how I woke up today. Every day I'm doing more things."

2. Can the Devils keep winning shootouts? Via In Lou We Trust:

Here's a fun, final fact: the Devils are perfect in shootouts. 4 attempts, 4 (incredibly gorgeous) goals, 4 stops (saves and misses), and they helped the Devils get 4 points in their last two games.

It won't last forever. Likewise, the Devils won't always comeback from an early deficit. Still, it's worth appreciating all the same. Especially now that they are 3-1 for the season.

3. Will the extended break affect the Devils? New Jersey built up substantial momentum last week. But even in their last game they started slow, falling behind to the Predators by a 2-0 score. How will they start Friday's game against the Sharks?

*Vs. San Jose Sharks, Friday, Oct. 21, 7 p.m. EST. Martin Brodeur could make his return as the Devils head out West for a game against the 1-2 Sharks.

*Vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, Saturday, Oct. 22, 7 p.m. EST. If the Devils want to make an early statement in the Atlantic Division, here's there chance.