Devils aim for California sweep against Sharks

Devils aim for California sweep against Sharks
November 23, 2013, 1:15 pm
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Martin Brodeur will start Saturday for the Devils, who have at least a point in seven of their last eight games (6-1-1). (USATSI)

SAN JOSE -- The Sharks haven’t seen the Devils in more than two years, but according to Dan Boyle, there shouldn’t be too many surprises when it comes to New Jersey’s style.

Especially when it’s Marty Brodeur between the pipes.

“Any time you’ve got a goalie back there like Marty, even though he’s getting older every year, he’s possibly the best ever to play the game,” Boyle said of the 41-year-old. “It’s going to be tough to score. You play the Devils, you’re going to have to earn your goals.”

New Jersey has gained at least a point in seven of its last eight games (6-1-1), including winning its last three. The Sharks should be well rested and playing with confidence after Thursday’s 5-1 win over Tampa Bay and a few days to recover and practice after their long road trip.

In a weak Metropolitan Division -- and that’s being generous -- the Devils have managed to climb back into playoff position after an 0-4-3 start out of the gate.

“They are a confident group right now,” Todd McLellan said. “When you look at the way they played at the beginning of the year until now, they are winning the games they didn’t win earlier. … I think we’re getting them at the top of their game.”

New Jersey is playing the final game of a three-game West Coast swing. After overtime wins in Anaheim, 4-3, and Los Angeles, 2-1, they’ll be going for a California sweep on Saturday.

Joe Thornton said: “They are always good defensive group. They’ve been winning some games in overtime and shootouts. They’re a competitive bunch, but they’ve been playing well of late. Good test for us tonight.”

Along with Brodeur, the Devils feature another future Hall of Fame player in Jaromir Jagr, who was Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl’s idol growing up.

Hertl said he was excited to play against Jagr, and fellow Czechs Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky. Logan Couture will get a kick out of going up against Brodeur, maybe for the final time.

Couture said: “You think New Jersey, you think Marty Brodeur. … It will be fun to play against someone like that, someone I grew up watching for a lot of years. I’m looking forward to it.”

“Certainly having Marty there, and Jagr there, I think it’s a special night for some of our young players, especially to play in that type of game,” McLellan said. “They’ll certainly want to play their best against those two Hall of Famers.”

It should be especially memorable for Hertl. The NHL’s rookie scoring leader with 18 points once had a posted or Jagr hanging in his room as kid.

“It’s one of the many memories that I hope he is able to bank throughout a real long career,” McLellan said. “Maybe one day they’ll be a young Czech player talking about playing against Tomas Hertl.”

The Sharks will continue their season-long five-game homestand. After Saturday, top Western Conference teams Los Angeles, St. Louis and Anaheim will all make their first visits of the season to SAP Center.