By John Schweibacher
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Lou Lamoriello got the jump on Monday’s NHL trading deadline as the Devils acquired Marek Zidlicky in a deal with the Wild Friday night.

Zidlicky scored 19 power play goals in 149 games in his first two seasons in the NHL (2003-04 and 2005-06). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that was third-most among NHL defensemen over that span, behind Bryan McCabe (21) and Wade Redden (20). Since then, Zidlicky has scored only 23 power play goals in 400 games, tied for 24th-most among NHL backliners over that span.

Zidlicky becomes the eighth player in Devils’ history, whose last name begins with the letter “Z”, five of whom have appeared with the Devils this season. Here are the eight “Z’s” who have played for New Jersey:

Player Games Goals Assists Points
Travis Zajac 416 90 162 252
Steve Zalewski 7 0 0 0
Valeri Zelepukin 375 85 133 218
Peter Zezel 23 0 6 6
Marek Zidlicky 1 0 0 0
Vladimir Zharkov 82 2 12 14
Dainius Zubrus 355 66 105 171
Andrei Zyuzin 39 1 3 4

Kurtis Foster, who was dealt to Minnesota along with forwards Nick Palmieri and Stephane Veilleux, Washington’s second-round choice in the 2012 draft and a conditional choice in 2013 in exchange for Zidlicky, had helped boost New Jersey’s power-play since being acquired from Anaheim in December.

According to Tom Gulitti of The Record, in the 29 games before Foster’s arrival, the Devils’ power-play was 14-for-110 (13.2%). In the 28 games Foster played for New Jersey, their power-play was 19-for-87 (21.8%).

Defenseman Mark Fayne scored the first overtime goal of his NHL career in the Devils’ 4-3 victory in Toronto last Tuesday. It was only the second overtime goal by a New Jersey defenseman over the last three seasons. The other one was by Anssi Salmela on March 12th, 2011 against the Islanders in Newark.

Fayne is just the 10th New Jersey defenseman to score a regular season overtime goal and only four of them have score more than one sudden-death game-winner:

· Scott Niedermayer 8
· Scott Stevens 2
· Brian Rafalski 2
· Johnny Oduya 2
· Craig Wolanin 1
· Viacheslav Fetisov 1
· Paul Martin 1
· Brad Lukowich 1
· Anssi Salmela 1
· Mark Fayne 1

The Devils reached the three-quarter mark of the 2011-12 regular season after Sunday afternoon’s 4-3 loss against the Lightning. New Jersey’s 35-22-4, 74 point mark through 61 games is tied for the 8th best in their history.

Here are the Devils’ all-time best and worst records through the first three quarters of a season:

Devils Best Records through 3rd Quarter:

· 1999-00 36-13-12 84 pts
· 1997-98 38-16-7 83 pts
· 2006-07 38-17-6 82 pts
· 2002-03 37-16-8 82 pts
· 2008-09 39-19-3 81 pts

Devils Worst Records through 3rd Quarter:

· 1983-84 13-43-5 31 pts
· 1982-83 11-37-13 35 pts
· 1985-86 19-39-3 41 pts
· 1984-85 18-35-8 44 pts
· 1988-89 21-30-10 52 pts

After a pair of home-ice losses, the Devils hit the road this week to take on the Rangers, Bruins, Capitals and Islanders.

New Jersey has taken two of the three meetings with the Rangers so far this season, giving them four wins in the their last six match-ups against the cross-river rivals after dropping five of the previous six contests against New York.

The Rangers will conclude the month of February atop the Eastern Conference standings. The last time the Devils faced the Rangers this late in the season with New York holding the top spot in the East was back on March 4th, 1996.

On that date, the Rangers led the Eastern Conference with a 35-17-2 record and 72 points, while the Devils were in 8th, at 29-25-8 and 66 points.

That night, New Jersey and New York played to a 2-2 tie at Madison Square Garden. Sergio Momesso and future-Devil Sergei Nemchinov scored the Rangers goals while Steve Sullivan and Randy McKay tallied for New Jersey. Martin Brodeur and Glenn Healy were the goaltenders.

The Devils and Bruins meet for the final time this season Thursday night in Boston. The defending Stanley Cup champs have won all three games so far against New Jersey and are looking for their first season sweep of the Devils since they took all three games in both the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.

Overall, the Bruins have won seven of their last eight games played vs. New Jersey dating back to March 30th, 2010. The Devils’ lone win over Boston came in last season’s final game; a 3-2 victory in Newark.

New Jersey and Washington conclude their regular season match-ups on Friday night in D.C.

The Devils have taken two of three from the Capitals so far in 2011-12. After a 3-1 loss on home-ice back on November 11th, New Jersey defeated the Caps in Washington the following night, 3-2, in a shootout and added another shootout win, 4-3, on December 23rd at Prudential Center.

The Devils face the Islanders Sunday afternoon in Uniondale in the first of three meetings between the two teams over the next week.

The two clubs have not faced each other since the weekend after Thanksgiving. New Jersey and New York split those two match-ups, a 1-0 Devils’ win at Nassau Coliseum on “Black Friday” November 25th and a 3-2

Isles’ victory the next afternoon in Newark.

Schwei’s Plus/Minus:

Plus: Scoring 1st. Devils club-record of scoring the first goal of a game comes to an end at nine straight games but New Jersey still has jumped out to 1-0 leads in 10 of its last 11 outings.

Minus: Not So Sweet Home. Losses to Vancouver and Tampa Bay dropped New Jersey to 1-3-1 in their last five games at The Rock.

What do you think of the Zidlicky trade? Sound off below…


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