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Schwei: Devils’ Two YoungStars To Shine In Ottawa

Adam Henrique (credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images), Adam Larsson (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Adam Henrique (credit: Paul Bereswill/Getty Images), Adam Larsson (credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils will send rookies Adam Henrique and Adam Larsson to this weekend’s All-Star festivities in Ottawa but, barring an injury replacement, will not have a player in the All-Star Game itself on Sunday afternoon.

Henrique and Larsson will become the 4th and 5th New Jersey Devils players to participate in the NHL’s YoungStars game, joining Paul Martin (2004), Zach Parise (2007) and David Clarkson (2008).

Current Devils Ilya Kovalchuk (2002 Atlanta), Henrik Tallinder (2003 Buffalo) and Anton Volchenkov (2003 Ottawa) have also played in the YoungStars game.

Both Kovalchuk, who scored seven goals in the inaugural 2002 game, and Parise, who had two goals and four assists in 2007, were named MVP’s in their YoungStars game appearances.

If the Devils do not have a player in Sunday’s All-Star Game, it will be the second time in franchise history (including Kansas City and Colorado) that no one from the club appeared in the NHL’s mid-season classic.

Martin Brodeur pulled out of the 2008 All-Star game in Atlanta after being voted the Eastern Conference’s starting goaltender and no other New Jersey player was added to the roster.

David Clarkson begins the week with 16 goals, the third-most on the Devils this season and one shy of his career-high 17 back in 2008-09.

Clarkson has registered only six assists so far in 2011-12, putting him in the mix for the NHL version of the “Cy Young Award” for a player whose goal to assist ratio reads like a MLB pitcher’s won-loss record.

Here is how Clarkson’s 16-6 “record” ranks in Devils’ history as well as how it stands among all NHL players this season (note: totals are through games of 1/21):

NJ Devil Season Goals Assists Differential

· Pat Verbeek 1987-88 46 31 15
· Claude Lemieux 1991-92 41 27 14
· Sylvain Turgeon 1989-90 30 17 13
· Brian Gionta 2003-04 21 8 13
· John MacLean 1990-91 45 33 12
· Pat Verbeek 1986-87 35 24 11
· Bill Guerin 1996-97 29 18 11
· David Clarkson 2011-12 16 6 10

NHL 2011-12 Goals Assists Differential

· Milan Michalek (OTT) 23 9 14
· Steven Stamkos (TB) 32 20 12
· Marian Gaborik (NYR) 25 14 11
· Eric Nystrom (DAL) 14 3 11
· Rene Bourque (MTL) 14 3 11
· David Clarkson (NJD) 16 6 10

The Islanders’ Michael Grabner was last season’s NHL “Cy Young Winner,” going 34-18:

· Michael Grabner (NYI) 34 18 16
· Brian Gionta (MTL) 29 17 12
· Ryan Jones (EDM) 18 7 11
· Scottie Upshall (CLM) 22 12 10
· Drew Stafford (BUF) 31 21 10
· Brenden Morrow (DAL) 33 23 10
· Nikolay Zherdev (PHI) 16 6 10

Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals to lead the Devils to a 5-1 win last week over the Winnipeg Jets, the team that used to be the Atlanta Thrashers, who traded Kovalchuk to New Jersey nearly two years ago.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was only the fifth multiple-goal performance for Kovalchuk in the now 151 games that he has played for the Devils, which averages out to one for just under every 30 games; while with Atlanta, Kovalchuk had 46 multi-goal games in the 594 appearances, an average of approximately one for every 13 games.

The Devils acquired left winger Alexei Ponikarovsky from the Carolina Hurricanes for minor league defenseman Joe Sova and a draft pick this past Friday. In his 33 career games against New Jersey, Ponikarovsky scored seven goals, with eight assists for 15 points.

Martin Brodeur lost a pair of bids for his first shutout of the season last week by allowing third period goals after holding both Winnipeg and Boston scoreless through two periods.

According to Mark Everson of the New York Post, this is the latest Brodeur has gone without a shutout since becoming a regular during the 1993-94 season. He didn’t get his first in the work-stoppage shortened 1994-95 season until February 20th (2-0 at Washington), but that was only the 15th game of the season. The latest he has gone in an 82-game regular season was January 3rd, 2006 (3-0 vs. Florida).

Brodeur has now gone 34 games without a shutout, including 29 this season. His last shutout was a 1-0 shootout loss in Pittsburgh on March 25th, 2011. He had won, 3-0, at Columbus five days earlier. Brodeur’s last shutout in Newark was January 20th, 2011, 2-0 over Pittsburgh.

The Devils host the Sabres Tuesday night in their final game before the all-star break. New Jersey has won both games so far this season against Buffalo, 5-3 on November 16th on the road and 3-1, December 28th on home ice. The Sabres lost at St. Louis this past Saturday to extend their road losing streak to 12 games.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the second-longest road losing streak since the 1993-94 season, behind only a 16-game skid by the Blackhawks in 2003-04. In those 12 road losses, Buffalo has been outscored 50-17 with 11 of the 12 losses by two-plus goal margins.

The Devils’ longest-ever road losing streak was also 12 games. New Jersey dropped 12 straight away from the Meadowlands from October 19th through December 1st, 1983.

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Alexei Ponikarovsky In. Newly-acquired LW scores his first goal for the Devils in 4-1 loss to Flyers.

Minus: Henrik Tallinder Out. Devils defenseman will miss six-to-eight weeks with a blood clot in his lower left leg.

How will the Devils’ YoungStars fare in Ottawa? Sound off below…