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Going to California

Devils head to California to battle best of the West

Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 1:52 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Going to California



 
The Devils are well aware of the challenge posed by this week's trip to California.

The three-game swing opens with a back-to-back Wednesday in Anaheim and Thursday in Los Angeles before concluding Saturday in San Jose. The Ducks and Sharks sit first and second in the Pacific Division, and, with the Kings, own a combined record of 42-15-8.

But in the midst of a 4-1-1 run over their last six games, Martin Brodeur and the Devils feel they're in good shape to tackle the best of the west.

"Defensively, I think we've been really consistent," said Brodeur, who's won four in a row. "Every single game in the last seven, eight games has almost been a mirror [image of] each other. We've been playing really well."

The Devils (7-8-5) have turned things around since their five-game western Canadian tour early in the season. After a shootout loss in Edmonton and an overtime loss in Vancouver, they scored just four times over the next three games, resulting in regulation losses in Calgary, Winnipeg and Ottawa.

Much has changed over the past month.

"[Our game is in a] much better place, and we're going to need it to be," head coach Peter DeBoer said. "Our team game is going to get tested by these three clubs. The good news is we've found a way, I think, to rise to the occasion against good teams this year. We're going to need to do that again."

The team has had time to jell since that first journey west, which came just two games into the season.

"We didn't know exactly where our team would be at when we made that trip," Brodeur said. "Hopefully we're going to do well, but we're playing some top teams. All three teams that we're going to play are on top of the League, so it's going to be definitely a big challenge for us to play [them]. We've been playing well against good teams, so hopefully we'll continue that."

The penalty kill has been a major contributor to the Devils' recent success. The PK went 4-for-4 in Saturday's 4-1 win over Pittsburgh and ranks fourth overall at 86.8%

"Penalty killing is definitely a big positive," Brodeur said. "We still have a lot of stuff to work on. Offensively we've had some good games and some tougher games. We just have to be a little more consistent in that department, also."

Offensively, the Devils sit 27th with 2.10 goals per game. But they were buoyed Saturday by the line of Dainius Zubrus, Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr, which combined for two goals, three assists and a plus-12.

Zajac hopes to keep that chemistry going.

"Those two guys, they complement each other well," Zajac said. "They're big, they're strong on pucks, they're good at supporting and holding on to the puck for an extra second to make that play. So, for me, it's just trying to skate hard and create some room and make sure I'm backing them up."

The Devils are also eager to improve their road play: they're 3-6-3 away from home and have been outscored, 35-22.

"The road hasn't been kind to us yet this year," DeBoer said "We have to fix that. No better way or bigger challenge than to go into the three buildings we're going into."

• On Monday, the Devils assigned D Jon Merrill to Albany (AHL) and placed D Anton Volchenkov on injured reserve, retroactive to Nov. 12.

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 WSH 50 37 9 4 163 112 78
2 FLA 51 31 15 5 141 112 67
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 51 27 18 6 149 136 60
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
8 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
9 PIT 50 25 18 7 129 128 57
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 50 23 18 9 119 130 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 52 23 23 6 142 164 52
14 TOR 50 19 22 9 116 134 47
15 BUF 52 21 26 5 119 137 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
L. Stempniak 53 15 24 7 39
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
K. Palmieri 53 20 15 3 35
A. Henrique 51 17 16 14 33
T. Zajac 45 7 18 6 25
D. Schlemko 45 6 9 -9 15
A. Larsson 53 2 11 12 13
D. Severson 50 1 12 0 13
A. Greene 53 4 6 2 10
J. Josefson 42 3 7 -13 10
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 15 6 .929 2.03
K. Kinkaid 3 5 1 .909 2.52
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