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Schwei On Ice: Devils’ Streak In Jeopardy

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

(Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

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By John Schweibacher
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New Jersey’s streak of reaching the NHL playoffs in each of the last 13 seasons is in jeopardy. Only the Red Wings have a longer active consecutive seasons streak:

Team – Seasons In Playoffs –  Last Season Out Of Playoffs

· Detroit –  19 –  1989-90
· New Jersey – 13 – 1995-96
· San Jose –  6 – 2002-03
· Pittsburgh – 4 – 2005-06

The Red Wings have missed the playoffs just twice (1985-86 & 1989-90) since the Devils first season in New Jersey back in 1982-83. The last NHL post-season in which neither the Devils nor Detroit participated was 1985-86.

The struggling Devils face the Ottawa Senators on Friday and the Detroit Red Wings Saturday. If New Jersey is looking for any historical precedent for recovering from a poor start to a season, they can look back at the Senators from 2006-07. Through 20 games that season, Ottawa was just 8-11-1 in 14th place in the Eastern Conference. The Sens would recover and go 40-14-8 the rest of the way, finishing 4th in the East and advancing in the post-season to the Stanley Cup finals.

The Devils went 3 and 1 against the Senators last season. Ottawa’s victory in the last of the four meetings of 2009-10 ended New Jersey’s nine-game winning streak against the Sens, dating back to the first-ever game at Prudential Center back on October 27th, 2007.

The Red Wings come to Newark for the lone meeting between Detroit and New Jersey this season. The Devils defeated the Wings, 4-3, in the shootout last season at Prudential Center on December 5th, improving New Jersey’s all-time home-ice record against Detroit to 16-6-6, including the two victories on the 1995 Stanley Cup finals.

Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom is still going strong at age 40 with three goals and 18 assists in his 26 games played this season. Lidstrom is the 3rd-oldest active player in the NHL and two of his teammates also rank among the top 11:

· Mark Recchi 42 Bos 2/1/72
· Dwayne Roloson 41 NYI 10/12/69
· Nicklas Lidstrom 40 Det 4/28/70
· Mike Modano 40 Det 6/7/70
· Teemu Selanne 40 Ana 7/3/70
· Doug Weight 39 NYI 1/21/71
· Kris Draper 39 Det 5/24/71
· Adam Foote 39 Col 7/10/71
· Craig Conroy 39 Cgy 9/4/71
· Sean O’Donnell 39 Phi 10/13/71
· Martin Brodeur 38 NJD 5/6/72

The Devils have been plagued with injuries this season, most notably losing Zach Parise (torn meniscus, out until February), Martin Brodeur (bruised elbow, out since November 18th) and Jamie Langenbrunner (sprained neck, returned last week after missing eight games). New Jersey has already gone past the 170 games mark in terms of games missed to injury and are on pace for their most regular season man-games missed since the lockout:

Season – Man Games Missed – Player Missing Most Games

2005-06 – 160 – Patrik Elias – 44
2006-07 – 215 –  Richard Matvichuk – 81
2007-08 – 179 – Cam Janssen – 63
2008-09  – 160 – Martin Brodeur – 50
2009-10 – 259 – Paul Martin – 59
2010-11 – 171 – Salvador & Salmela – 27

Johan Hedberg got the quick hook from John MacLean in the Devils’ 5-1 loss to the Canadiens last week. Hedberg was replaced by Mike McKenna at the 1:38 mark of the 1st period after allowing a pair of goals. Prior to Hedberg, the last time a New Jersey Devils goalie left a game during the games first 20 minutes was back on October 7th, 1999 in the Devils home opener, when Martin Brodeur received a five-minute major and a match penalty for slashing the Penguins’ Matthew Barnaby with 5:28 left in the first period.

The last time a Devils goalie left in the 1st period because of a coaching decision came on February 12th, 1994 when Jacques Lemaire pulled Brodeur after the netminder allowed four goals, including a Cam Neely hit trick, against the Boston Bruins in the opening 13:50 of the contest at Boston Garden.

Mike McKenna stopped Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec on a penalty shot attempt in the Devils loss to the Canadiens. Martin Brodeur had given up two penalty shot goals so far this season, one to Alexander Ovechkin on October 9th and another to Vancouver’s Henrik Sedin on November 1st. McKenna was the 11th New Jersey goaltender to face a penalty shot and joined four others who were unscored upon:

NJD Goalie – Penalty Shot Goals – Penalty Shot Saves

· Chico Resch – 1 – 2
· Ron Low – 1 – 0
· Alain Chevrier – 0 – 4
· Craig Billington – 0 – 1
· Bob Sauve – 0 – 1
· Chris Terreri – 3 – 2
· Sean Burke – 0 – 1
· Martin Brodeur – 3 – 5
· Scott Clemmensen – 1 – 0
· Kevin Weekes – 1 – 0
· Mike McKenna – 0 – 1

Jay Pandolfo recently signed a professional tryout contract with the Springfield Falcons, the AHL affiliate of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Should the 35-year-old Pandolfo make it back to the NHL, he will drop from this list; most games played by players who spent their entire careers as New Jersey Devils:

· Ken Daneyko 1283
· Martin Brodeur 1093
· Patrik Elias 906
· Jay Pandolfo 819
· Sergei Brylin 765
· Colin White 700
· Zach Parise 419
· Travis Zajac 353
· David Clarkson 243
· Andy Greene 236

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Minus: 50 not nifty. Devils last in NHL with just 50 goals in 27 games.

Plus: Bill Guerin. 1989 Devils 1st round draft choice officially retires after 18-year career in which he scored 429 goals and added 427assists to go along with Stanley Cup wins with New Jersey in 1995 and Pittsburgh in 2009.

pixy Schwei On Ice: Devils Streak In Jeopardy