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Brodeur focused on season's positives

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 11:04 AM / News
By Eric Marin
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Brodeur focused on season\'s positives
Brodeur sees reason for optimism after difficult season.
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With the playoffs now clearly a longshot, Martin Brodeur reflected recently on the Devils' improbable second-half run.

Buried at the bottom of the Eastern Conference by the season’s halfway point, the Jacques Lemaire-led club had many believing they were a team of destiny after a two-month climb out of the cellar.

But back-to-back losses to Ottawa and Washington 11 days ago started the current 1-4-1 stretch that restored a double-digit gap between New Jersey and eighth place.

Saturday’s defeat in Buffalo left the Devils 12 points out of a postseason berth with seven games remaining. The Islanders visit Prudential Center on Wednesday. Any combination of Sabres wins or Devils losses totaling three points will snap New Jersey’s streak of playoff appearances at 13 seasons.

“You wish, I think, to continue the same way we’ve been doing and not look back, but there’s going to be a bump in the road eventually,” Brodeur said. “I wish it could have happened later on so we could still be in it and play for [the playoffs], but I think we’ve come a long way.”

In January, they trailed the final playoff spot by as many as 27 points. Twenty-three wins in 28 games from Jan. 9 to March 15 slashed the gap to six.

Brodeur was a key part of the revival despite a knee injury that kept him out of eight games. He’s 16-6-2 since a 5-18-1 start and has made 14 straight appearances.

Two setbacks to Ottawa in nine days proved costly – then the schedule got tough. Teams vying for postseason positioning were bringing their “A” games nightly.

“Now it’s playoff-gear time,” Brodeur said. “People are picking up their game and you’re playing against teams that they don’t give you anything any more. Especially us, the last 11 games we had left were against mostly playoff teams.”

Offensively, the Devils hit a wall. They went 6-0-1 to start the surge, outscoring opponents 28-13. By the end of the run, goals were at a premium. The team went 7-1-0 over the final eight games, seven of which were decided by one goal, and four of which went to overtime or a shootout.

Brodeur emphasized that “the compete level has been there.” The scoring just wasn’t, however.

“Early in our streak, we were winning 4-1, 5-1, 3-1,” he said. “Now everything was always a battle until the end. We pulled a lot of tricks out of our hats to get those, and now teams are clamping down a little more because of the time of the year. They’re tougher to pull off now.”

He enumerated some of the positives from this season, focusing on the play of rookie forwards Jacob Josefson, Nick Palmieri and Mattias Tedenby, and defenseman Mark Fayne.

“We’ve given chances to kids that, probably if we had a great season, they would never have a chance to be in the NHL,” he said. “Now we know who’s capable of what and that’s going to make Lou’s [Lamoriello] job interesting this summer to put the puzzle together again and go back at it.”

It’s likely that some number of games to end this season won’t count for much in the standings. That won’t stop the Devils from giving it everything they’ve got.

“We just have to play,” said Brodeur. “We’re paid to play hockey and just give our 100% of what we can give out there. We’ll do that for the last part. It just kind of [stinks] when you do it for nothing. We have five games at home, so we have to make a good show for our fans. I think, if we do well, it just continues what we’ve accomplished. I think going into next season, there’s a lot of positives.”

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

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