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Schwei: Novembers To Remember And Forget For Devils

(credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

(credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

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By John Schweibacher
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The Devils have one November game remaining on their schedule and at 12-9-1 with 25 points, have already posted a better record through the NHL season’s first two months than they did a year ago when they were 8-14-2 with 18 points entering December.

New Jersey’s schedule and the NHL’s standings points system have varied over the years, but here are the Devils’ best and worst marks through November in club history:

Best records through November:

· 2008-09 17-6-1 35 pts
· 1997-98 17-8-0 34 pts
· 1993-94 15-6-2 32 pts
· 1991-92 14-10-1 29 pts
· 1990-91 13-10-3 29 pts
· 1987-88 13-8-3 29 pts

Worst records through November:

· 1983-84 3-20-0 6 pts
· 1982-83 4-16-7 15 pts
· 1984-85 7-12-2 16 pts
· 2010-11 8-14-2 18 pts
· 1985-86 9-11-1 19 pts

Johan Hedberg recorded his second shutout of the season with a 1-0 win over the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum this past Friday. Hedberg became the first Devils goalie other than Martin Brodeur to record a shutout against the Islanders. Brodeur had registered New Jersey’s 10 previous “complete game” shutouts against the Isles as well as one he shared with Mike Dunham back on November 9th, 1996.

Hedberg also stopped a potential game-tying penalty shot by Michael Grabner with 7:10 remaining in the third period of that shutout win which, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, made Hedberg the first goaltender in Scouts/Rockies/Devils franchise history to post a shutout in a game in which he faced a penalty shot, and the first goaltender on any NHL team to do so since December 26th, 2010, when the Coyotes’ Jason LaBarbera shut out the Stars, 1-0, at Dallas and turned away a penalty shot by Loui Eriksson.

Hedberg has now stopped seven of the nine penalty shots he has faced during his NHL career, including two of three this season for New Jersey:

· Stopped Marian Hossa 10/16/01 PIT 5-2 win vs. OTT

· Stopped Mike Modano 10/24/01 PIT 3-2 win vs. DAL

· Stopped Pavol Demitra 2/28/04 VAN 2-0 win vs. STL

· Stopped Evgeni Malkin 3/17/09 ATL 6-2 loss at PIT

· Stopped Maxime Talbot 11/21/09 ATL 3-2 loss vs. PIT

· Allowed goal Teddy Purcell 3/6/10 ATL 6-2 loss at TB

· Stopped Sergei Kostitsyn 10/15/11 NJD 3-2 win at NSH

· Allowed goal Maxime Talbot 11/3/11 NJD 4-3 win at PHI

· Stopped Michael Grabner 11/25/11 NJD 1-0 win at NYI

(Thanks to hockeygoalies.org for Hedberg’s penalty-shot information)

Dainius Zubrus scored the only goal in regulation for the Devils in their 2-1 shootout win against the Blue Jackets last Wednesday. Zubrus recorded only two points in nine games last month (a pair of goals at Los Angeles on October 25th) but he’s tallied 10 points in 13 games in November (5 goals, 5 assists).

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is only the second time in Zubrus’ five seasons with New Jersey that he has reached double-figures in points for a calendar month. Zubrus had 11 points in November 2008 (4 goals, 7 assists in 13 games).

The Florida Panthers overcame a 3-0 deficit to beat Martin Brodeur and the Devils, 4-3, last Monday. It was only the second time in Panthers history that they won a game in which they trailed by three goals or more. Florida’s all-time record in such games before the comeback victory was 1-292-13, with the win coming in overtime against Toronto on February 10th, 2009 (trailed 4-1, won 5-4) for then-head coach Pete DeBoer.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was also only the fourth time that the Devils failed to win a game, regular season or playoffs, in which they led by three goals or more and had Martin Brodeur in net.

Their three other such games were a 5-4 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on February 10th, 2001, a 3-3 tie at Tampa Bay on January 11th, 2003 and a 6-5 overtime loss at Atlanta on March 23rd, 2006.

The Devils head back to the road this week to face Colorado, Minnesota and the Winnipeg Jets. New Jersey lost its lone meeting with the Avalanche last season, 3-2, back on October 15th, 2010 at Prudential Center. The Devils have gone just 1-3-1 vs. the Avalanche in Colorado since the two clubs met in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals.

New Jersey takes on the Minnesota Wild on Friday night in St. Paul. The two teams faced each other just one time in 2010-11, a 2-1 Minnesota victory back on January 4th in Newark. The Devils are 3-1-1 against the Wild in Minnesota since the Wild joined the NHL in 2000-01.

The Devils make their first visit to Winnipeg in almost 16 years when they face the new version of the Jets Saturday night at MTS Centre. New Jersey defeated the Jets, 3-2, in overtime when the two clubs met on November 5th at the Rock. The last time the Devils played in Winnipeg was back on December 29th, 1995, a 5-3 loss to the Jets.

New Jersey led that game at the now-demolished Winnipeg Arena, 3-1, early in the 3rd period thanks to a pair of goals from rookie Petr Sykora but the Jets stormed back against Martin Brodeur and the reining Stanley Cup champs with four goals in the final 7:45 to get the win.

Overall, the Devils were just 3-12-3 against the first incarnation of the Jets in Winnipeg from 1982 through that 1995 meeting. New Jersey went 14-4-4 all-time against this Jets franchise as the Thrashers in Atlanta.

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Dave Barr. New Devils’ assistant coach’s penalty-killers are a perfect 38-for-38 on home-ice and 81-for-86 overall, leading the NHL at
94.2 percent.

Minus: Adam Oates. Second-year assistant coach’s power-play units have allowed five shorthanded goals this season, the most in the NHL, meaning New Jersey has allowed as many shorthanded goals as power-play goals.