The Phoenix Coyotes are a last-place team and the New Jersey
Devils are not. That’s about the only thing the Devils have over
Phoenix opens its longest road trip in three years at New Jersey
on Wednesday night, looking to follow a big win by continuing its
impressive road play and extending the Devils’ worst slump in a
A season after the Coyotes (14-8-6) ended a six-year playoff
drought, New Jersey (8-19-2) is at risk of missing the postseason
for the first time in 15 years. The only team with fewer points is
the Atlantic Division rival New York Islanders.
The Devils have lost all five games this month, their longest
losing streak since an 0-5-1 skid late in 2008-09. However, this is
the first time they’ve dropped that many in a row in regulation
since a six-game slide Nov. 2-14, 2000.
“We’re playing hard to change things but it seems not to be
working,” Martin Brodeur said. “Hopefully, we’ll get through this.
I know it is hard.
“Right now, we can’t even look at the playoffs. I think this is
something, hopefully it (the playoffs) will be there later on, but
right now we have to concentrate on the next game and play day by
day, That’s it.”
The next one is against a Phoenix club which has won six of
seven away from home, yielding 12 goals.
Though the Coyotes are at the bottom of a tightly bunched
Pacific Division, no Western Conference team has more road wins.
They’re 8-4-2 outside Arizona.
“I think we’ve done a good job on the road so far this season,”
winger Radim Vrbata told the Coyotes’ official website. “So we just
need to keep playing our game, our road game.”
Phoenix is embarking on a six-game trek, its longest since a
5-1-0 swing Dec. 8-20, 2007. It begins with four matchups versus
Atlantic foes and ends with visits to Pacific rivals San Jose and
The Coyotes are coming off a 5-2 win over the division-leading
Stars on Saturday night.
“What lies ahead is a great challenge,” coach Dave Tippett said.
“It’s an extended road trip, (and) we feel good about coming off
that game Saturday night and the work we put in.”
The Devils have a lot of work to do on offense. They have a
league-low 53 goals, and that includes a pair in shootout wins –
two of their only three victories in 12 games over the past
Ilya Kovalchuk has one goal during that span and five this
season, on pace for about half his previous career low. He’s scored
at least 40 in each of the past six seasons.
“We have so many chances, crossbars, posts, miss the net, broken
sticks,” said Kovalchuk, regularly getting booed on home ice. “It’s
just one of those starts where nothing goes our way. We have to
stick with it.”
The Devils have no even-strength goals in three straight games
and just three in the past seven.
It may be hard to get many against Ilya Bryzgalov, 2-1-1 with a
1.48 goals-against average this month. He hasn’t allowed more than
three goals in 10 road starts, going 6-1-2.
The only time he’s faced the Devils was a 4-3 victory Jan. 14 in
That was New Jersey’s fourth loss in the last five meetings.
Brodeur was in net for all of them and posted a dismal .881 save
The Devils placed Brian Rolston on waivers Tuesday. The
37-year-old left wing had two goals and two assists in 15