By John Schweibacher
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A pair of former New Jersey Devils will be among the four players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame Monday night in Toronto. Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk will be joined by Ed Belfour and Mark Howe as this year’s class is enshrined.
Joe Nieuwendyk, who is currently the GM of the Dallas Stars, was a member of three Stanley Cup winning teams, including the 2003 New Jersey Devils. Nieuwendyk appeared in 94 regular season games with the Devils, scoring 19 goals and adding 37 assists. He finished his career with 564 goals, scoring his 500th coming with New Jersey in January 2003.
Nieuwendyk had three goals and six assists in 17 games during the 2003 playoffs.
Doug Gilmour played in 83 regular season games for the Devils, scoring 20 goals with 45 assists. He had five goals and six assists in his 16 post-season appearances with the Devils in 1997 and 1998. Gilmour, who won a Stanley Cup alongside Nieuwendyk with the Calgary Flames in 1989, finished his NHL career with 450 goals and 964 assists.
Mark Howe and Ed Belfour both faced the Devils in the Stanley Cup Finals. Howe was a member of the 1995 Detroit Red Wings and his last two appearances as an NHL player came in the first two games of the finals that year. Belfour started all six games in goal for the Dallas Stars against New Jersey in the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals.
Devils defenseman Adam Larsson gave himself a present one day before his 19th birthday when he scored the first goal of his NHL career in New Jersey’s game against Washington on Friday.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Larsson, who turned 19 years old on Saturday, was the youngest player to score a goal for the Devils since Petr Sykora (age 18 years, 348 days) tallied his second goal in the NHL on November 2nd, 1995 at San Jose.
Larsson was the third 18-year-old defenseman to score a goal for the Devils franchise, joining Joe Cirella, who had seven goals at age 18 for the Colorado Rockies in 1981, and Craig
Wolanin, who scored two goals at age 18 for the Devils in the 1985-86 season.
Wolanin still remains the youngest player to ever score a goal for New Jersey with Larsson now becoming the seventh-youngest:
· Craig Wolanin 18 years, 4 months & 14 days. (vs. Minnesota/Jon Casey)
· Kirk Muller 18 years, 8 months & 6 days. (vs. Detroit/Greg Stefan)
· Brendan Shanahan 18 years, 9 months & 18 days (at NY Rangers/John Vanbiesbrouck)
· Pat Verbeek 18 years, 10 months & 1 day. (at Washington/Al Jensen)
· John MacLean 18 years, 10 months, 19 days. (at Detroit/Ed Mio)
· Petr Sykora 18 years, 11 months & 10 days. (vs. Pittsburgh/Tom Barrasso)
· Adam Larsson 18 years, 11 months & 30 days. (vs. Washington/Tomas Vokoun)
Adam Henrique scored the tiebreaking game-winner against the Hurricanes last Tuesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Henrique was the first New Jersey rookie to score goals in three consecutive team games since Scott Gomez in January 2000, in wins over Buffalo, Phoenix and Tampa Bay.
Henrique, who also scored in overtime in the Devils previous game vs. Winnipeg, became the first New Jersey rookie to be credited with the game-winning goal in consecutive team games since Patrik Elias on November 8th and 10th of 1997. Elias scored the 1st goal in a 2-0 win over the Bruins and the 2nd tally in their 3-1 victory vs. the Islanders.
The Devils face the Bruins, Sabres and Lightning on the road this week as they continue their stretch of 15 of 21 games away from New Jersey.
The Devils will be facing each of these three opponents for the first time this season.
On Tuesday night, the Devils will take on the defending Stanley Cup Champion Bruins in Boston. New Jersey dropped three of four against former coach Claude Julien’s club last season.
The Bruins come in to the contest having won five in a row, scoring at least five goals in each of the wins, their longest such streak since 1991. The Devils have had such a streak only once in club history, scoring at least five goals in five straight games back in December of 1998.
Dainius Zubrus is expected to play in his 1,000th NHL game when New Jersey faces the Sabres in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
Zubrus will become the eighth player to play in his 1,000th game while with the Devils, joining Dave Andreychuk (1996), Neal Broten (1995), Bob Carpenter (1996), Ken Daneyko (1999), Claude Lemieux (2000), Scott Stevens (1996) and Brian Rolston (2009).
Zubrus will also become the 247th player in NHL history to reach the 1,000 games played milestone. 33 of the previous 246 were at one time members of the New Jersey Devils. Zubrus’ current linemates; Patrik Elias (976) and Petr Sykora (950) could both reach the 1,000 games played mark later this season.
New Jersey went 1-2-1 against the Sabres in 2010-11.
The Devils visit the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday. New Jersey took three of four against the Lightning last season and has won 13 of the last 15 meetings with Tampa Bay dating back to October 31st, 2007.
Plus: Penalty-Killing. Devils have now killed off 53 of 57 shorthanded situations this season, 2nd best in the NHL (93%) behind the Penguins (94%).
Minus: Power-Play. New Jersey is now 0 for its last 19 on the PP,
5-for-50 so far in 2011-12, tied with St. Louis for the worst percentage with the man-advantage in the NHL.
How can the Devils improve with the man advantage? Leave a comment below.