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Going to California

Devils head to California to battle best of the West

Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 1:52 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Going to California
Devils head to California to battle best of the West



 
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 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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