By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games, led by Martin Brodeur, who is now 7 and 1 with a 1.72 goals against average since the All-Star break.

Those numbers are very much in line with what Devils’ coach Pete DeBoer recently said about Brodeur: “We knew that he’s always been a second half, playoff-type player and that’s what has made him the greatest of all time or one of the greatest.”

Taking DeBoer’s point further, here are Martin Brodeur’s career numbers both before and after the midway points of his 18 seasons (statistics courtesy of Yahoo Sports, through the games of 2/19):

Games W L T/OL Pts % GAA SV % SHO
Pre All-Star 677 374 225 70 .598 2.27 .912 70
Post All-Star 479 272 138 69 .629 2.17 .914 47

Ilya Kovalchuk scored three of the Devils’ four goals in their win at Buffalo last Tuesday. It was the 12th hat trick of Kovalchuk’s NHL career and his first in one day short of three years, since he scored three times for the Atlanta Thrashers at Anaheim on February 15th, 2009.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Kovalchuk’s 11 hat tricks over his first seven NHL seasons were the most in the league during that span.

The hat trick was the first by a Devil this season and the first since Patrik Elias’ three-goal game against Philadelphia last April 1st. It was also just the fourth hat trick by a New Jersey Devils player which included an empty-net goal.

Here are the four hat tricks in Devils’ history which were completed with the opponents’ goalie pulled:

Date Devils Hat Trick Score Opposing Goalie
3/2/86 Mark Johnson Wpg 4 @ NJD 6 Brian Hayward (2) ENG
3/26/96 Stephane Richer NJD 6 @ TB 4 Darren Puppa (2) ENG
2/5/03 John Madden NJD 4 @ Was 1 Olaf Kolzig (2) ENG
2/14/12 Ilya Kovalchuk NJD 4 @ Buf 1 Ryan Miller (2) ENG

Petr Sykora had the game-winning goal in the Devils’ victory over Buffalo, his club-leading 5th of the season. The most game-winning goals Sykora had in a season during his first stint with New Jersey was seven, back in 1998-99. Sykora now has 30 career game-winners for the Devils, tied for the 6th-most in club history:

· Patrik Elias 78
· John MacLean 55
· Bobby Holik 43
· Zach Parise 36
· Jamie Langenbrunner 32
· Stephane Richer 30
· Brian Gionta 30
· Petr Sykora 30

Sykora recently played his 500th career game for the New Jersey Devils. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Sykora took the longest between his first game as a Devil and his 500th to reach that mark, doing it 16 years and 106 days.

Sykora played in his first game as a Devil (and in the NHL) back on October 28th, 1995 against Pittsburgh. Brian Rolston previously held the record for the longest stretch between his first game as a Devil and his 500th, 15 years and 292 days from February 5th, 1995 to November 24th, 2010. Tommy Albelin is third on the list at 15 years and 98 days from December 13th, 1988 to March 20th, 2004.

The Devils visit the Toronto Maple Leafs Tuesday night before returning home to take on the Vancouver Canucks and Tampa Bay Lightning this weekend.

New Jersey and Toronto have split their first two meetings so far this season; a 5-3 Maple Leafs’ win back on November 2nd at Prudential Center and a 3-2 overtime victory for the Devils on December 6th at Air Canada Center. Five of the last seven games these teams have played in Toronto have been decided in either overtime or the shootout.

The Devils and Canucks meet for the first and only time this season Friday night in Newark. The teams have not met since November 1st, 2010, a 3-0 shutout victory for Roberto Luongo in Vancouver. The Canucks have taken 10 of the last 14 meetings between the two clubs dating back to January of 1998.

The Devils host the Lightning on Sunday afternoon. New Jersey took both of the two games on the road vs. Tampa Bay, 4-2 on November 19th and 5-4 on December 12th and has now won 15 of their last 17 against the Lightning. The clubs will meet one more time in New Jersey on March 29th.

Earlier this month, Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov ended a 103-game streak without scoring a goal by scoring his first with New Jersey. This past week, two former Devil defensemen put an end to their long goalless stretches as well.

San Jose’s Colin White ended his 148-game goal drought when he scored in the second period of the Sharks’ game in Tampa and Sheldon Brookbank’s game-tying goal with 2:13 remaining in the third period for the Ducks against the Devils was only the second goal of his 253-game NHL career.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Brookbank entered play last Friday with the longest current goal drought among active skaters (166 games). Brookbank, who played 59 games with New Jersey in 2007-08 and 2008-09, scored his only other NHL goal on March 31st, 2009 for the Ducks in Edmonton.

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: MSG/Time-Warner. Devils games, as well as Rangers, Islanders and Knicks, become available again to Time-Warner customers after the cable system and MSG Networks end their 48-day impasse.

Minus: Dinged-up D. New Jersey continues to win, but both Henrik Tallinder and Adam Larsson remain on injured reserve, Kurtis Foster and Bryce Salvador miss all or part of the win vs. Montreal, while Anton Volchenkov played on despite taking a slap shot to the face in the victory.

Will the Devils keep up their hot play? Sound off below…

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