NEWS

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
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.

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59