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Next step for Devils: the .500 mark

Monday, 03.07.2011 / 4:08 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Next step for Devils: the .500 mark
Brodeur is 12-1-1 in his last 14 appearances.
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Jacques Lemaire didn’t check the standings this morning. It slipped his mind.

“I forgot,” Lemaire said after Monday’s practice.

But there’s no forgetting Sunday’s 3-2 shootout decision over the Islanders that extended the Devils’ winning streak to four in a row. They have used a 20-2-2 mark in the second half to climb within eight points of Buffalo for the final playoff spot in the East.

Once 10-29-2, the Devils (30-31-4) are one win away from the .500 mark. They will have the chance to reach it for the first time this season when they host Ottawa on Tuesday.

“One [win] away? Good,” Lemaire said. “That’s what we were looking for. A long time ago.”

He added: “We thought that it was impossible, but maybe now it could be something possible.”

To Martin Brodeur, who is 12-1-1 in his last 14 outings, the .500 mark would be significant. He made 20 saves and stopped five of six Islanders attempts in the shootout to capture his fourth straight victory and improve to 17-19-2.

“It’s definitely a lot of credit to the guys to bear down and play well throughout the big stretch that we’re having and continue it,” Brodeur said. “The .500 mark was always a goal of everybody to try and achieve it and we’re one [win] away from it now, so it’s nice.”

With 17 games remaining, there’s still little margin for error. The Devils get some favorable breaks on the schedule and will face both Ottawa and the Islanders two more times. They also have one game remaining with Buffalo and the Rangers, who currently sit in seventh place, 10 points ahead of them in the standings.

“There is a margin, but it’s thin,” Lemaire said. “You guys, you can get excited when we’re a game away. Look at all that we did to gain three points. It’s amazing when you look at our last 10 games, we gained three points. So it’s still a long ways.”

As incredible as the second-half run has been, the Devils are hoping they can make their push before they run out of time. New Jersey has gained one point on the final playoff spot in each of the last two weeks despite winning five of six over that span.

“It’s not that you don’t believe, the thing is, games are running out,” Lemaire said. “That’s what I’m looking at. Soon there’ll be 10 games left. Soon. So, let’s say we lose one, two games there. We’re back to where we were. You tell me we’re going to win all of them, I’ll tell you we’ll make the playoffs, but we won’t. And we might not make it winning all of them depending on what the other teams do, because they’ll win their share.”

Brodeur wants to see the eight-point deficit cut in half to position the Devils for a final surge.

“I think eight points is still a big margin to get in,” he said. “But I think if we do get to four or three points, I think that’s where we’re going to have a really good chance, especially later on when we play the Rangers and Buffalo. It’s going to be interesting for everybody, but we have to get to that first and we can’t lose sight of that, that’s for sure.”

Will they start feeling the pressure if they can chip away at the deficit even further?

“I don’t think so,” said David Clarkson. “We’re not thinking about that. If we start thinking the big picture, it’s going to affect us. I think we’ll just take it day by day, game by game and we’ll do what we’ve done to get to where we are. That’s what’s made us successful, is taking it game-by-game and working on the little things Jacques wants to change. You saw us out there today working on stuff that he feels we could get better at. If we keep doing those things, I’ll think we’ll be a better team.”

Proud Papa
Clarkson is enjoying his first days of fatherhood. He and his wife Brittany welcomed daughter McKinnley on Friday.

“It was pretty cool waking up and holding her before I got to the rink,” Clarkson said.

Everyone is back home and doing well.

“I think it’s something that you can’t explain,” he said. “When this happens, I think you go home with things on your mind about maybe here, or anything else, but when you hold that little one, it’s like nothing else is in your thoughts. So it’s been pretty special so far. I can’t wait for her to walk and talk and do all those fun things.”

The couple didn’t want to know the child’s gender beforehand, but went with a hunch.

“We thought it was [going to be] a boy, so we had a lot of boy clothes,” he said. “Today I’m going to surprise my wife and go get some pink things so she doesn’t look like a boy.

“Everyone was hinting at a boy. One of the doctors was like, ‘Well, looks like a little hockey player.’”

So far, Clarkson’s enjoying the little things about being a dad.

“Just waking up and seeing her, rocking in the rocking chair with her,” he said.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51

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