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Schwei's Devils Notes: Despite Losing Streak, New Jersey In Best Shape In Years At Midway Point

By John Schweibacher
» More Columns

The NHL bye week may be coming at the right time for the New Jersey Devils, who have lost a season-high five games in a row.

Three of New Jersey's losses during their five-game slide have come in either overtime or shootouts. That gives the Devils 52 points through 41 games, their most halfway through the 82-game schedule since 2009-10, when New Jersey was 30-10-1 with 61 points.

A look at recent years:

• 2017-18: 22-11-8, 52 pts
• 2016-17: 16-17-8, 40 pts
• 2015-16: 20-16-5, 45 pts
• 2014-15, 14-20-7, 35 pts
• 2013-14: 17-16-8, 42 pts
• 2012-13: 15-16-10, 40 pts*
• 2011-12: 23-16-2, 48 pts
• 2010-11: 10-29-2, 22 pts
• 2009-10: 30-10-1, 61 pts
(*lockout reduced schedule to 48 games)

MORE: Lichtenstein: Devils' Defense Could Derail The Whole Thing

The Devils' 52 points through 41 games also match their fourth-best total in club history:

• 2009-10: 30-10-1, 61 pts
• 1999-00: 24-10-7, 55 pts
• 1997-98: 26-13-2, 54 pts
• 2017-18: 22-11-8, 52 pts
• 2006-07: 24-13-4, 52 pts
• 2003-04: 21-10-10, 52 pts
• 2002-03: 23-12-6, 52 pts
• 2000-01: 22-11-8, 52 pts
• 1993-94: 24-13-4, 52pts

The Devils' fifth straight loss came when the Islanders beat them 5-4 in the shootout Sunday in Brooklyn.

New Jersey Devils v New York Islanders
The Islanders' Brock Nelson scores the shootout-winning goal past the Devils' Cory Schneider on Jan. 7, 2018, at the Barclays Center.(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New Jersey is now 3-8 all-time vs. the Islanders in games decided by the shootout. The only club the Devils have fared worse against in shootouts is Toronto, going 2-9 vs. the Maple Leafs in 11 games.

Sebastian Aho scored his first NHL goal and recorded his first NHL assist for the Islanders in their come-from-behind win.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the only other Islanders defenseman to score his first NHL goal and add an assist in the same game was Vladimir Malakhov, who did it against the Rangers on Oct. 7, 1992.

Malakhov, who was a member of the Devils' Stanley Cup-winning club in 2000, was also the last Islanders rookie defenseman before Aho on Sunday to have a goal and an assist in a game vs. New Jersey, doing so on Oct. 30, 1992, in a 4-1 Islanders victory at the Meadowlands.

On Thursday night, the Devils lost to the Stars, 4-3, in Dallas.

Elias noted that Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, the top two overall picks from the 2010 draft, faced off for the 12th time in that game.

According to Elias, Hall, who tallied a goal and two assists in the loss, has produced 13 points in the head-to-head matchup while Seguin, who scored his 20th goal of the season, has registered 12 points during the 12-game set.

This is the first time Hall has ever held the cumulative head-to-head point advantage over his draft-class rival.

Seguin and Hall rank first and second in points among all the players selected in that 2010 draft. The top five are:

• Tyler Seguin (Dal): 210 goals, 257 assts, 467 pts
• Taylor Hall (Edm/NJ): 167 goals, 256 assts, 423 pts
• Jeff Skinner (Car): 193 goals, 165 assts, 358 pts
• Vladimir Tarasenko (Stl): 163 goals, 163 assts, 326 pts
• Ryan Johansen (Cbj/Nsh): 106 goals, 207 assists, 313 pts

Last Tuesday night in St. Louis, the Devils lost their first game of 2018, 3-2 to the Blues in the shootout.

It was New Jersey's ninth straight loss to the Blues, their longest current losing streak against any opponent.

Here are the Devils' longest losing streaks (excluding ties) against an opposing club in franchise history (including seasons as Kansas City and Colorado):

16 -- vs. NY Islanders, Feb. 20, 1982 to March 20, 1984
13  -- vs. Philadelphia, Jan. 14, 1975 to Dec. 3, 1977
12  -- vs. Montreal, Dec. 15, 1976 to Nov. 15, 1979
9  -- vs. Philadelphia, March 27, 1983 to Oct. 27, 1984
9  -- vs. St. Louis, Jan. 28, 2014 to present

New Jersey is now 2-6-5 vs. the Blues all-time in games decided after regulation.

The Devils' only wins after 60 minutes against St. Louis were both overtime victories: Jeff Friesen scored the game-winner on Nov. 30, 2002, in a 4-3 road win; and Pat Verbeek gave New Jersey a 7-6 win at St. Louis on March 21, 1987.

Former New Jersey Gov. Brendan Byrne died last week at age 93. Byrne was instrumental in helping bring the Devils to New Jersey in 1982. The Devils' first home, the Brendan T. Byrne Arena in the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, was named for him before it was renamed the Continental Airlines Arena in 1996, and then the Izod Center in 2007.

Plus: Multi-Tasking. Travis Zajac's two-goal game Sunday was his first multiple goal game of the season and his first since scoring three against Chicago on Dec. 1, 2016.

Minus: Low-Five. The Devils' current five-game losing streak (0-2-3) is the club's longest of the season and their longest since dropping six straight (0-4-2) from March 23 to April 1, 2017.

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