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Devils Week Ahead: Clashing With The Top Teams

The New Jersey Devils are out for revenge.

The Devils have three games this week, with a rematch against the Boston Bruins looming as the largest matchup of the week. The team kicks off a three game homestand tomorrow night against the Winnipeg Jets, and they'll also host the Philadelphia Flyers in a Saturday matinee.

New Jersey enters this week third in the Atlantic Division, two points behind the New York Rangers. Their 56 points put them sixth in the conference, two behind the Rangers and Ottawa Senators, who are tied for fourth place. They're also two points ahead of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, who are tied for seventh place.

They return home this week after a four-game road trip that included three games in Western Canada. The Devils played well on the road, going 3-1-0 and earning six of a possible eight points. Head coach Peter DeBoer was obviously happy with the team's play.

"I'm happy with that," he told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "In the one game in Calgary (a 6-3 loss on Tuesday) was a winnable game too. We're playing well. We're finding ways to win and we've got to keep that going."

The Devils started their slate of Western Canadian games last week with a 6-3 loss to the Calgary Flames Tuesday. Both goalies struggled, as the tandem of Martin Brodeur and Johan Hedberg combined for just eight saves on 14 shots. New Jersey still put three goals on the board, but couldn't overcome a 4-0 first period deficit. It was only the second time in the past five meetings the Devils lost to the Flames.

New Jersey turned it around the next night, defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 2-1, in overtime Wednesday night at Rexall Place. The Devils special teams powered the offense, as they scored both shorthanded and on the powerplay. Ilya Kovalchuk had the shorthanded tally, scoring on a breakaway in the second period. Zach Parise collected the power-play game winner, tapping a puck past Nikolai Khabibulin in overtime. Hedberg bounced back to make 22 saves for his 12th win of the season.

The Devils ended the week with their final visit to Winnipeg, defeating the Jets, 2-1. Down, 1-0, after two periods, the Devils scored twice in the final frame for the comeback win. Kurtis Foster scored his first goal as a Devil, and Patrik Elias deflected home the game-winner.

Brodeur said the team was happy, but not completely satisfied, with their performance.

"We wanted to play well on this road trip," he told Gulitti. "The last time we went out West we didn't have a great road trip and we didn't start well with the game in Calgary. But we had two gutsy efforts. Not that we played really, really good, but we played some gutsy hockey. Guys really did well in certain areas of our game and battled really hard. It was a lot of fun, especially the last three or four days together."

With the All-Star Break quickly approaching, the Devils have a chance to cement their position in the Eastern Conference. Here is the team's week ahead:

Tuesday, January 17: Winnipeg Jets vs. New Jersey Devils - 7 p.m. (MSG)

The Jets come to Prudential Center for the second game of a home-and-home series with the Devils. New Jersey leads the season series, 2-1-0. They've won two straight over the Jets, who enter the game tenth in the Eastern Conference. They haven't had an easy January, winning just twice in seven games.

Thursday, January 19: Boston Bruins at New Jersey Devils - 7 p.m. (MSG Plus)

The Bruins come back to the Prudential Center as the number two team in the Eastern Conference. New Jersey will be looking for revenge after Boston beat them, 6-1, on home ice January 4. Boston has won the first two meetings of the season, outscoring the Devils 10-4.

Saturday, January 21: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New Jersey Devils - 1 p.m. (MSG Plus)

The Philadelphia Flyers visit the Prudential Center since the Devils season opener October 8. New Jersey lost that game, 3-0, as Ilya Bryzgalov recorded the shutout. The two teams are tied, 1-1-0, in the season series. The Devils are right on Philadelphia's heels in the standings, with just four points separating the two rivals.

Devils Leaders

Goals: Ilya Kovalchuk - 17

Assists: Patrik Elias - 25

Points: Patrick Elias - 41

Plus/Minus: Adam Henrique: +9

PIM: David Clarkson - 72

Wins: Martin Brodeur - 13

G.A.A.: Johan Hedberg - 2.45

Save %: Johan Hedberg - .909

Shutouts: Johan Hedberg - 2

Devils Schedule

Next 5 Games

Winnipeg Tue 01/17 7:00 PM EST
Boston Thu 01/19 7:00 PM EST
Philadelphia Sat 01/21 1:00 PM EST
Buffalo Tue 01/24 7:00 PM EST
New York Rangers Tue 01/31 7:00 PM EST

Last 5 Games

@ Winnipeg Sat 01/14 W 2 - 1
@ Edmonton Wed 01/11 OT - W 2 - 1
@ Calgary Tue 01/10 L 3 - 6
@ Pittsburgh Sat 01/07 W 3 - 1
Florida Fri 01/06 W 5 - 2