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Devils

Schwei: Devils Head West

(credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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By John Schweibacher
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The Devils conclude their stretch of six out of seven games against Western Conference opponents with games this week against the L.A. Kings, Phoenix Coyotes and Dallas Stars.

New Jersey has gone 2-0-1 so far vs. the West. They went just 8-9-1 last season against Western Conference opponents and 7-9-2 in 2009-10.

The Devils defeated the Kings, 2-1, in a shootout victory in their meeting earlier this month in New Jersey but are just 9-28-8 all-time on the road against Los Angeles in franchise history.

The team has gone 8-4-2 in their last 14 trips to L.A. dating back to January of 1991.

New Jersey faces the Coyotes in Phoenix on Thursday night. The Devils, who did not travel to Arizona last season, lost their most recent game in Phoenix, 4-3, back on January 14, 2010. All-time, New Jersey has gone 3-6-0 in their nine road contests against the Coyotes since the franchise moved to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season.

The Devils conclude their road trip against the Stars in Dallas on Saturday. New Jersey’s 1-0 win against the Stars in Dallas last February 22, ended a four-game losing streak in games played in the Lone Star state. The Devils are now 3-4-0 in Dallas since the two teams met in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.

Sheldon Souray has been enjoying a comeback season so far with Dallas, with a goal and four assists in seven games with the Stars.

The 35-year-old defenseman had not played in the NHL since being waived to the AHL by the Edmonton Oilers mid-way through the 2009-10 season.

Souray, who was selected in the 3rd round by New Jersey 17 years ago, is one of seven players who were drafted by the Devils in 1994 or earlier and are still active in the NHL this season:

1994
Patrik Elias, 2nd/51st overall
Sheldon Souray, 3rd/71st overall
Steve Sullivan, 9th/233rd overall

1993
Jay Pandolfo, 2nd/32nd overall
Brenadan Morrison, 2nd/39th overall

1991
Brian Rolston, 1st/11th overall

1990
Martin Brodeur, 1st/20th overall

Steve Sullivan appeared in his 900th NHL game this past Saturday in the Penguins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. Sullivan, who was selected by New Jersey with the 233rd overall pick in 1994 before being traded to Toronto in 1997 in the deal that brought Doug Gilmour to the Devils, is the 15th player originally drafted by New Jersey to appear in 900 career games but the 49 he spent at the start of his career with the Devils are the second fewest among the players on the list:

Player – NHL GP – NJD GP
· Brendan Shanahan 1,524 315
· Pat Verbeek 1,424 463
· Kirk Muller 1,349 556
· Ken Daneyko 1,283 1,283
· Bill Guerin 1,263 380
· Scott Niedermayer 1,263 892
· John MacLean 1,194 934
· Brian Rolston 1,191* 557
· Eric Weinrich 1,157 173
· Martin Brodeur 1,134* 1,134
· Jason Smith 1,008 164
· Stephane Yelle 991 0
· Patrik Elias 967* 967
· Petr Sykora 941* 451
· Steve Sullivan 900* 49
(*-active players)

Of the 21 NHL teams that were in existence in 1982 when the Devils first participated in the entry draft, only Montreal has selected as many players as New Jersey who have appeared in 900 or more NHL games:

· New Jersey 15
· Montreal 15
· Detroit 13
· NY Rangers 11
· Boston, Hartford/Carolina & Buffalo 10

Zach Parise converted on his first career penalty shot attempt in last Friday night’s game against San Jose. It was just the 14th successful penalty shot in Devils’ history and only the 4th in their last 18 regular season attempts dating back to Patrik Elias’ successful attempt against Atlanta back in March of 2000:

· Zach Parise vs. San Jose (Antti Niemi) 10/21/11

· Mattias Tedenby vs. Washington (Braden Holtby) 11/22/10

· Brendan Shanahan vs. Tampa Bay (Kari Rammo) 4/3/09

· Scott Gomez vs. Toronto (Ed Belfour) 12/31/05

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Johan Hedberg. Devils goaltender is now 13-3-2 in his last 18 decisions dating back to January 22nd.

Minus: Injury-bug. Devils lose center Jacob Josefson for three to four months with a fractured right clavicle.

What’s your prediction for the road trip? Let us know in the comments below…