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Schwei On Ice: Quite The Fall

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) looks on as the puck goes in for a goal scored by Atlanta Thrashers left wing Evander Kane, far right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur (30) looks on as the puck goes in for a goal scored by Atlanta Thrashers left wing Evander Kane, far right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

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By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils are in danger of suffering the worst season-to-season drop in points percentage in NHL history. The Devils finished the 2009-10 season with 103 points out of a possible 164 for a points percentage of .628. Through their first 38 games this season, New Jersey has just 22 out of 76 (.289), more than 33 percent fewer at this point. Only the Philadelphia Flyers of four seasons ago have had anything close to such a drop-off in the last 25 years in the NHL. Here is a list of the greatest one season declines since 1927 as well as where the Devils stand coming into the week:
(Thanks to the Hockey Abstract at hockeyabstract.blogspot.com)

Season – Team – Season 1 – Season 2 – Difference
2010-11 – New Jersey – .628 – .289 – .339
1942-43 – N.Y. Rangers – .635 – .300 – .325
1930-31 – Ottawa – .568 – .273 – .295
2006-07 – Philadelphia – .616 – .341 – .275
1970-71 – Detroit – .625 – .352 – .273
1927-28 – Chicago – .466 – .193 – .273
1953-54 – Chicago – .493 – .221 – .272
1931-32 – Boston – .705 – .438 – .267
1937-38 – Detroit – .615 – .365 – .250
1937-38 – Montreal Maroons – .552 – .313 – .239
1985-86 – Winnipeg – .600 – .369 – .231

On the bright side, those Flyers rebounded the following season and matched the 10th biggest one-season gain in the NHL since 1927:

Season – Team – Season 1 – Season 2 – Difference
1993-94 – San Jose – .143 – .488 – .345
1943-44 – Montreal – .500 – .830 – .330
1981-82 – Winnipeg – .200 – .500 – .300
1992-93 – Quebec – .325 – .619 – .294
2006-07 – Pittsburgh – .354 – .640 – .286 1929-30 – Chicago – .250 – .534 – .284
2001-02 – N.Y. Islanders – .317 – .582 – .265
1967-68 – Boston – .314 – .568 – .253
1928-29 – N.Y. Americans – .318 – .568 – .250
1986-87 – Detroit – .250 – .488 – .238
2007-08 – Philadelphia – .341 – .579 – .238

Flyers G.M. Paul Holmgren orchestrated Philadelphia’s turnaround which, like the Devils face this season, came as the Flyers missed the playoffs for the first time in 13 seasons.

Holmgren began by sending Peter Forsberg to Nashville prior to the 2007 trade deadline in exchange for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and a first round draft choice. He then dealt with the Predators again that June, returning the pick in exchange for the negotiating rights to free agents Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell, who he then signed. Holmgren also added free agent Daniel Briere that summer as well as using the number two selection in the NHL Draft to take James van Riemsdyk after Chicago jumped ahead of Philadelphia in the lottery to come away with Patrick Kane.

The Devils swing into the New Year with a home game against the Minnesota Wild, a pair of home and home contests vs. the Philadelphia Flyers and a home-ice match up with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

New Jersey began the calendar year of 2010 with a game in Minnesota vs. the Wild and the two teams will meet again almost a year later when they face-off Tuesday night at Prudential Center.

Jacques Lemaire’s recent return to the Devils means that just has been the case in all 10 of the all-time meetings between New Jersey and the Wild, Lemaire will be behind the bench for one of the two clubs. Lemaire has been on the winning end in only two previous Devils/Wild match-ups, a 5-3 New Jersey victory last season and a 3-2 Minnesota win in 2003.
The Devils hold a 7-1-2 edge in the all-time season series.

Brian Rolston was placed on re-entry waivers last week but remains a New Jersey Devil after going unclaimed by another NHL club. No player has ever appeared in more games with Jacques Lemaire as their head coach than Rolston, who has now spent parts of nine different seasons playing for Lemaire with both New Jersey and Minnesota. Here is the list of players who appeared in the most games for Jacques Lemaire:

· Brian Rolston NJD/MIN 578*
· Nick Schultz
MIN 527
· Marian Gaborik MIN 502
· Wes Walz
MIN 438
· Pierre-Marc Bouchard MIN 425
· John Maclean NJD
388
· Martin Brodeur NJD 382*
· Scott Stevens NJD
372
· Scott Niedermayer NJD 370
· Stephan Veilleux MIN 361
*through 1/2/10

The Devils and Flyers will play a pair of home and home contests beginning Thursday night in Newark and concluding Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. New Jersey took the first meeting between the two teams this season, 2-1, in a shootout back on November 27th at The Rock while the Flyers won on home-ice a week later, 5-3.

The Devils face the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time this season Sunday afternoon at Prudential Center. The match-up will come almost one year to the date of the suspended game between the two clubs which began at the Rock on January 8th and concluded on the 10th. With the Lightning leading, 3-0, mid-way through the 2nd period, a bank of lights in the arena went dim. Attempts to restore the power failed and the game was suspended after a delay of one hour and 42 minutes. The two clubs returned two nights later and completed the contest; a 4-2 Tampa Bay win.

The Lightning’s Steven Stamkos, who comes into the week second only to Sidney Crosby for the NHL scoring lead, has six goals and two assists in his eight career games vs. the Devils, including five in his five career games against Martin Brodeur.

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Johan Hedberg. Narrowly misses shutout in 3-1 win over Atlanta.
Only Corey Schwab (vs. Toronto in 2003) has posted a shutout for New Jersey against a team he formerly played for.

Minus: Martin Brodeur. Pulled from his start against the Hurricanes on Saturday when Carolina took a 3-0 lead exactly eight minutes into the game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the shortest start of Brodeur’s career by more than five minutes. Brodeur’s shortest start before this was on May 3, 1995, in the Devils’ season finale at Buffalo, when Jacques Lemaire lifted him at the 13:11 mark of the first period, after Brodeur had given up two goals on five shots.

Minus: 10 miles of rough road: Devils suffer 10th consecutive road loss, equaling the second longest road losing streak in team history from January 23rd to March 5th, 1983.

pixy Schwei On Ice: Quite The Fall