By John Schweibacher
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After starting February with a 5-1-0 record, the slumping Devils have gone 2-4-1 in their last seven games, including consecutive regulation losses for the first time since last March.
Steve Bernier came up empty on his penalty-shot attempt this past Saturday in Washington. It was just the fifth-ever awarded to the Devils in a game against the Capitals, only one of which has resulted in a New Jersey goal:
• 4/02/89: Anders Carlsson vs. Don Beaupre, at NJD — Save
• 12/30/98: Jay Pandolfo vs. Rick Tabaracci, at Wash — Save
• 3/11/00: Sergei Nemchinov vs. Olaf Kolzig, at Wash — Save
• 11/22/10: Mattias Tedenby vs. Braden Holtby, at NJD —Score
• 2/23/13: Steve Bernier vs. Braden Holtby, at Wash — Save
Alexander Ovechkin registered his 11th-career hat trick in Washington’s 5-1 win over New Jersey on Saturday. It was just the fourth hat trick by a Capitals player against the Devils and the first in more than 22 years:
• 1/04/86: Mike Gartner — Devils 3 at Washington 9 (Resch (2) & St. Laurent)
• 10/15/88 Dave Christian — Devils 5 at Washington 8 (Sauve)
• 12/07/90 Mike Ridley — Devils 2 at Washington 5 (Burke)
• 2/23/13 Alex Ovechkin — Devils 1 at Washington 5 (Hedberg)
Patrik Elias’ shorthanded goal against the Caps last Thursday was the 14th of his career, second only to John Madden (17) in team history.
Here are the Devils’ all-time leaders in shorthanded goals:
• John Madden 17
• Patrik Elias 14
• Stephane Richer 11
• Doug Brown 11
• John MacLean 10
• Jamie Langenbrunner 10
• Brian Rolston 10
• Jay Pandolfo 7
• Kirk Muller 6
• Aaron Broten 6
• Mark Johnson 6
• Mel Bridgman 6
The Devils face the Sabres for the first time this season on Saturday afternoon in Buffalo. Last week, the Sabres fired head coach Lindy Ruff and replaced him with Ron Rolston, the coach of their AHL farm club in Rochester. He is the older brother of longtime Devil Brian Rolston.
Ruff was hired by Buffalo back on July 21st, 1997. The Devils made 13 head-coaching changes during Ruff’s tenure as the Sabres’ head coach.
Ruff was the longest-tenured coach in the NHL and the second-longest in the four major sports, trailing only Gregg Popovich of the San Antonio Spurs.
Here is the list of the 10 coaches/managers who currently have the longest tenures with the same club:
• Gregg Popovich, NBA — San Antonio 12/10/96
• Barry Trotz, NHL — Nashville 8/6/97
• Mike Scioscia, MLB — Los Angeles Angels 11/17/99
• Bill Belichick, NFL — New England 1/27/00
• Ron Gardenhire, MLB — Minnesota 1/4/02
• Marvin Lewis, NFL — Cincinnati 1/14/03
• Tom Coughlin, NFL — New York Giants 1/6/04
• Doc Rivers, NBA — Boston 4/28/04
• Charlie Manuel, MLB — Philadelphia 11/5/04
• George Karl, NBA — Denver 1/27/05
Here are the 10 NHL head coaches who have the longest tenures with their current teams:
• Barry Trotz, Nashville — 8/6/97
• Mike Babcock, Detroit — 7/14/05
• Alain Vigneault, Vancouver — 6/20/06
• Claude Julien, Boston — 6/21/07
• Todd McClellan, San Jose — 6/12/08
• Joel Quenneville, Chicago — 10/16/08
• Dan Bylsma, Pittsburgh — 2/15/09
• John Tortorella, New York Rangers — 2/23/09
• Joe Sacco, Colorado — 6/4/09
• Dave Tippett, Phoenix — 9/24/09
Ruff was the first head coach fired during this lockout-shortened NHL season. In the 48-game 1994-95 campaign, three coaches were replaced during the season. Winnipeg let go of John Paddock and hired Terry Simpson with 15 games remaining. In Edmonton, Ron Low took over for George Burnett with 13 games left and Rogie Vachon succeeded Barry Melrose in Los Angeles for the final seven games of the year.
Minus: Penalty Killing — After setting a club record with just 27 power-play goals allowed last season, the Devils have allowed an NHL-worst 19 in 19 games played this year.
Plus: Reid Boucher — The Devils prospect scored four goals last Friday night for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League to reach 57 for the season, one shy of Steven Stamkos’ team mark.
Any cause for concern at the moment, Devils fans? Sound off with your thoughts and comments below…