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NHL New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils: Examining the Near-Historic, Six-Game Losing Streak without Martin Brodeur

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A Look Back at New Jersey Devils Losing Streak without Martin Brodeur

New Jersey Devils
Ed Mulholland - US PRESSWIRE

Martin Brodeur was on the bench in a scheduled day off for the New Jersey Devils goaltender after a win in Washington two nights before. As scheduled, Johan Hedberg started game two of rare, back-to-back road games against the same team. With the Winnipeg Jets looming the following night, the New Jersey Devils’ near-historic, six-game losing streak started innocently enough when they collapsed during the third period of a 1-1 game against an underachieving Washington Capitals team.

Instead of rebounding from an unsurprising loss to the Capitals, the Devils spiraled. In their third game in four nights, the Devils faced a suddenly hot Jets team at home. Brodeur was pulled from the starting lineup due to a surprising pre-game injury and Hedberg was thrust back between the pipes after struggling the night before. Suddenly, the Devils were slumping and without their Hall of Fame goalie for an unknown stretch of games.

New Jersey's offense slumped, the defense broke down, line changes failed and every facet of the New Jersey Devils system fell apart.

Then, just as suddenly as their struggles started, they began to win again. Brodeur’s return seems imminent and the Devils have won three of four. Hedberg is playing better and the offense is finally clicking. The New Jersey Devils are back and playing like a playoff team again.

Because New Jersey is playing better, maybe it’s time to look back and laugh at the losing streak that almost destroyed the season. Here’s a look at the near-historic stretch of futility that came within a game of reaching a 27-year team record.

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Third Period Collapse Dooms New Jersey Devils Vs Washington Capitals

Devils
Geoff Burke - US PRESSWIRE

The New Jersey Devils collapsed very suddenly in the third period of a 1-1 game, quickly allowing four unanswered goals in what had been a grinding hockey game to that point. A hot Washington Capitals goaltender shut down the Devils offense that had carried them to the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It was easy to forgive New Jersey, however, shrugging off a blowout loss to a slew of strange factors.

The backup goaltender lost on the road to a desperate team and the Devils played well for most of the game. New Jersey just beat the Washington Capitals in Washington and a scheduling anomaly forced the Devils to play the Caps in Washington again just two nights later. It’s very difficult to beat the same team two times in a row, particularly when on the road for both games.The first loss didn’t even begin to hint at the string of hockey that lay ahead.

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New Jersey Devils Drop Back to Back Games Against Winnipeg Jets

Devils
Bruce Fedyck - US PRESSWIRE

The New Jersey Devils' losing streak continued as Johan Hedberg’s struggles worsened. In consecutive games with the Winnipeg Jets over a five-day period, the Devils fell twice more to a middling hockey team. Winnipeg was heating up, but the Devils played poorly in both games.

Winnipeg goaltender Ondrej Pavelec outplayed Hedberg and shut down the Devils offense. They had chances, but Pavelec was able to keep his team on top. The Devils squandered a lead in the first game after Winnipeg erupted late. In the third period of the second game with the Jets, the Devils collapsed in the third period of another tied game.

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New Jersey Devils Lose Heartbreaking, Chippy Game Against Buffalo Sabres

Devils
Kevin Hoffman - US PRESSWIRE

The New Jersey Devils nearly ended their losing streak when they played a slumping Buffalo Sabres team. After the Sabres made a series of offseason moves to make their roster tougher at the expense of offensive skill, they fell from the middle of the Eastern Conference pack. They fired their coach after losing several games and the year has been something of a rebuilding effort.

The Devils failed to capitalize on a weaker spot in their schedule. Soft goals from an overworked Hedberg squandered a winning effort from the Devils offense. Ryan Miller closed out the Devils in a shootout and chippy play marked another Devils loss. The two would meet later in the week and the Devils got revenge, ending their losing streak one game short of team history.

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New Jersey Devils and Johan Hedberg Fail to Close Another Win

Devils
John E. Sokolowski - US PRESSWIRE

The Toronto Maple Leafs have surprised people this year. After firing their general manager because they didn’t like the way he built his team, the Leafs look like they can end their playoff drought. The goaltenders that likely cost Brian Burke his job have carried the Leafs.

The New Jersey Devils blew another third-period lead, failing to score in the third after taking a 2-1 lead into the final stanza. An inability to finish games continued to mark their play, while the offense lacked the timely scoring to make up for a string of untimely goals. When the Leafs tied this one up, it felt like it was already over.

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New Jersey Devils Pull Moose, Show Third Period Life, Lay Foundation for Win

Devils
Jim O'Connor - US PRESSWIRE

The final game of New Jersey’s six-game skid was against another slumping hockey team. The Tampa Bay Lightning, plagued by a lack of defense and poor goaltending play, limped into their game with the Devils. Their offense, as expected, exploded for five goals against the Devils, including the empty-netter that sealed the game. Hedberg was pulled at last, finally ending a stretch where he was clearly overworked.

The Devils made a game of it, however. Special teams produced late goals in the third period and New Jersey was in striking distance. The continuity the offense found in the third period of their game with the Lightning carried over as a third-period comeback snapped a losing streak that threatened to tie team history. Adam Henrique and Patrick Elias finally broke their scoring droughts, leading the Devils past the Sabres in a shootout victory - a mere two weeks after their last win.