February 08, 2015

The New Jersey Devils' unexpected success this season has come without any distinguished face of the franchise, a moniker that fit Martin Brodeur for 20-plus seasons.

Connor McDavid's status as the Edmonton Oilers' poster boy is in its infancy.

The Devils will honor Brodeur at Prudential Center on Tuesday night before attempting to avoid matching their longest skid of the season against McDavid and the last-place Oilers.

New Jersey (26-21-7) has missed the playoffs for three straight seasons and was supposed to continue a rebuilding process under rookie coach John Hynes. Instead of foundering through another season, the Devils are one point behind the New York Islanders for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

The improvement has come without a signature star, a luxury that's been missing since Brodeur's final season with New Jersey in 2013-14.

Brodeur, who played seven games for St. Louis the following season, was a four-time Vezina Trophy winner and owns many of the NHL's goaltending records, most notably career wins (691) and shutouts (125).

He led the Devils to wins in three of five trips to the Stanley Cup final. Now, his No. 30 will be raised to the rafters to join former teammates Ken Daneyko, Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer.

The emotions could provide a spark for New Jersey, which dropped to 0-1-2 in its last three with Monday's 2-1 loss to the New York Rangers.

"It's a special thing for Marty, but what has to give this team energy is we're in a competitive situation here within the league and (Monday) we didn't give ourselves a chance to win a hockey game, and that cost us," Hynes said. "The biggest motivation is ... to be able to get two points. That should be motivation enough."

It's unknown if Hynes will again call on Cory Schneider after he made 35 saves against the Rangers. He's 5-2-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average over his last eight starts.

Schneider, who split time with an aging Brodeur in 2013-14, also owns a 0.75 GAA while winning three of his past four matchups with Edmonton.

Backup Keith Kinkaid stopped 22 shots in a 5-1 road loss to the Oilers on Nov. 20.

That was one of 37 games McDavid missed with a broken clavicle. The first overall selection from last year's draft has two goals and four assists in four games since returning.

The 19-year-old center has 18 points in 17 games as he tries to help turn around the Oilers (21-28-5), who seem destined to miss the playoffs for a 10th straight season.

Edmonton gave up the first five goals before McDavid scored in Sunday's 8-1 loss to the Islanders. That came a day after a 5-1 loss at Montreal.

"I had a good first couple of games but team-wise it's way more important," McDavid told the team's official website. "Right now we're struggling. I certainly believe in this group and everyone else does as well so we can't be too hard on ourselves. The lows can't be too low and the highs can't be too high."

There have been plenty of lows on the road, where the Oilers have dropped 11 of 13 (2-8-3). However, they won 2-1 in their most recent visit to Newark on Feb. 9 of last year.

Taylor Hall has seven points in six career meetings with the Devils, including three in November. He's gone two games without a point after tallying nine during a seven-game streak.

Edmonton has at least one point in its last 10 games at New Jersey, going 5-0-4 with one tie.

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