The New Jersey Devils entered this week knowing they had a challenge on their hands and a chance to see where their teams stacks up against the rest of the league. Well all they have done is shut-out the hated Rangers, defeat their other New York rival the Islanders and shutout the best team in the NHL, the Boston Bruins. Now all that stands from a perfect week is a win on Sunday over the Western Conference leading San Jose Sharks.
Maybe feeling a little bit of pressure knowing Marty Brodeur's return is getting closer and closer by the day, goalie Scott Clemmensen has decided not to give up the #1 goalie title he has earned in Brodeur's absence. After going his first 35 games without a shutout, Clemmensen has posted two straight shutout this week stopping 58 shots in the process. Clemmensen now owns a 2.23 GAA and a .922 save percentage this season. With Marty Brodeur' return on the horizon, Clemmensen is making what just a few months ago look to be an easy decision for Coach Sutter now a very hard one.
The Devils and Bruins played an extremely tight defensive game and showed why they are two of the top defensive teams in the NHL. The Devils defenseman have made their statement, trying to dispel all trade rumors with their play of late, that they like this group just the way it is and Lou should leave it alone.
Tim Thomas was excellent in yesterdays game again and would be my leading candidate for the Vezina trophy this season, but one mistake cost him the game. John Madden won a face off clean back to Bryce Salvador at the point, who threw a seemingly harmless wrist shot past that slipped through the legs of Thomas for the only goal of the game.
The Devils now look to finish off the week by closing out the Sharks Sunday afternoon. The Sharks, who have only lost four times all year in regulation, have struggled of late as they are 1-1-4 in their last six games.
- Travis Zajac now ranks fifth in league in plus/minus at plus 28. He was minus-11 last season.
- Brodeur should participate in his first full team practice today, speculation has him returning on February 26th.
- Devils have only given up 6 goals in their last 5 games, in that same time they have scored 14. Of the 4 goals Langenbrunner and Parise have scored 7 of them.
- It took nine rounds of the shootout for the Philadelphia Phantoms to defeat the Lowell Devils 2-1 last night. After the loss Lowell is 24-21-5 this season.