By John Schweibacher
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The New Jersey Devils have won five straight games and are 8-1-3 one-quarter of the way through this 48-game season.
The club’s 19 points are the most through the first 12 games in team history:
· 2012-13: 8-1-3 19 pts
· 1993-94: 9-3-0 18 pts
· 1990-91: 8-3-1 17 pts
· 1987-88: 8-4-0 16 pts
· 1997-98: 8-4-0 16 pts
· 2002-03: 8-4-0 16 pts
· 2008-09: 7-3-2 16 pts
· 2010-11: 8-4-0 16 pts
Ilya Kovalchuk scored one goal and assisted on another in the Devils’ win over the Lightning last Thursday. Kovalchuk’s shorthanded goal snapped a 1-1 tie late in the second period and put New Jersey ahead to stay.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the shorthanded goal was Kovalchuk’s fifth in the now-57 regular-season games he has played over the last 14 calendar months (January 2012 to date), after tallying only three shorthanded goals in his 734 career games through the end of 2011.
Kovalchuk, who set a career-high with those three shorthanded goals last year, became the first player in the NHL to score two this season.
Andy Greene scored his first power-play goal since October 27, 2010 at San Jose and added a power-play assist in New Jersey’s victory over the Penguins on Saturday. Greene is now tied for 10th all-time in power-play goals by a New Jersey Devils defenseman:
· Scott Niedermayer 51
· Bruce Driver 33
· Scott Stevens 28
· Brian Rafalski 19
· Joe Cirella 18
· Dave Pichette 12
· Paul Martin 11
· Uli Heimer 11
· Tommy Albelin 10
· Andy Greene 9
· Jack O’Callahan 9
Martin Brodeur appeared in his 1,200th NHL game this past Saturday against the Penguins. Only seven active players have played in more NHL games (totals through 2/10/12):
· Roman Hamrlik 1,383
· Jaromir Jagr 1,357
· Teemu Selanne 1,352
· Alex Kovalev 1,311
· Ray Whitney 1,237
· Shane Doan 1,210
· Martin Brodeur 1,200
Brodeur registered a 3-1 win over the Penguins in his 1,200th regular-season game. Brodeur is the league’s all-time leader among goaltenders in both games played and wins, but according to the Elias Sports Bureau, Saturday’s victory against Pittsburgh was only his fourth win in a century milestone game (he’s 4-8-0). His previous wins in such games came in games No. 400, No. 500 and No. 900.
Brodeur’s 900th career game was a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning back on October 31, 2007. It was the Devils’ first-ever win at Prudential Center.
Devils rookie Stefan Matteau, who will turn 19 on February 23, scored the first goal of his NHL career in New Jersey’s 3-1 win over the Penguins on Saturday afternoon. Matteau was the third 18-year-old to score a goal in an NHL game this season, following Montreal’s Alex Galchenyuk and Buffalo’s Mikhail Grigorenko. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only two other 18 year olds have scored goals for the Devils over the last 24 seasons: Petr Sykora (two in 1995) and Adam Larsson (one on November 11, 2011).
Matteau’s father, Stephane, scored his first NHL goal back on October 8th, 1990 as a member of the Calgary Flames in a 4-3 win at Winnipeg against Jets goalie Stephane Beauregard.
Stefan Matteau’s first-career goal came in his seventh game, which, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, is the third-fastest among Devils who have made their NHL debut in the same year that they were drafted, behind only Kirk Muller (two games) and John MacLean (three games).
Plus: Johan Hedberg: Made 23 saves in goal vs. Pittsburgh and improved to 8-0-2 in his last 10 starts dating back to January 11, 2012 at Edmonton.
Plus: David Clarkson: Scored two more goals in the win at Pittsburgh, and with nine goals overall is now tied with Chicago’s Patrick Kane and San Jose’s Patrick Marleau for the second-most in the NHL.
Minus: Dainius Zubrus: Devils forward did not miss a game last season but has missed New Jersey’s last three with an upper-body injury. It could put him on the long-term injury list.
So we’re only a quarter of the way through the season, hockey fans, but can we start saying that the Devils are better than the Rangers? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…