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Devils prepare for Thursday's opener in Tampa

by Staff Writer / New Jersey Devils

Sergei Brylin is one of several Devils closing in on a career milestone this season. –
As the National Hockey League raises the curtain tonight on its 90th season, Devils fans will have to wait one more night to see their team take the ice for the start of the 2007-08 regular season.

But it's not too early to look ahead to what's in store for head coach Brent Sutter's squad in the upcoming campaign, as the Devils embark on a season-opening, nine-game road trip beginning Thursday night in Tampa Bay.

With the finishing touches being applied to Prudential Center – the team's new state-of-the-art home in Newark, N.J. – the Devils will return to the Garden State to open their home schedule on Oct. 27 against the Ottawa Senators.

If recent trends are any indication, getting off to a fast start in October can help pave the way for good things later on in the season. The last three Stanley Cup champions had a combined October record of 23-2-5, and the last 10 Cup winners had a combined October mark of 78-17-14.

The month ahead for the Devils will bring matchups against the defending Eastern Conference champion Senators (Oct. 8, Oct. 27); Sidney Crosby and the Penguins (Oct. 17); the Flyers  (Oct. 18) and the Rangers (Oct. 25).

The Devils closed out their 25th-anniversary season with a 49-24-9 record (107 pts., 2nd in East) for their seventh regular-season Atlantic Division title. The 49 victories set a new franchise high, while the 100-point output marked the 10th season of 100 points or more in team history.

Martin Brodeur set a new NHL single-season record for wins (48), collecting his third Vezina Trophy. Over the past 10 seasons the Devils have the most wins in the Eastern Conference (458), and Brodeur has been between the pipes for 412 of them.

Once the puck drops on '07-08, several Devils, including Brodeur, will be within striking distance of even more career milestones.

Entering his 14th full season, the Devils' netminder needs two shutouts to tie George Hainsworth (94) for second place on the all-time list. He also is six wins shy of becoming just the second goaltender in NHL history to reach the 500-win plateau, joining Patrick Roy (551).

Other Devils poised to reach new plateaus include:
Sergei Brylin - With 292 career points, Brylin is eight short of reaching the 300-point plateau. The Moscow native has tallied 123 goals and 169 assists in 683 NHL games, all with the Devils.

Brian Gionta - The right wing is just a point shy of recording 200 points in his NHL career. Gionta has collected 110 goals and 89 assists in 310 career games with the Devils.

Richard Matvichuk - A Devil for two of his 14 NHL seasons, the Edmonton native is four games away from reaching 800 for his career.

Jay Pandolfo - Entering his 11th season with the Devils, Pandolfo has registered point totals of 26, 20 and 27 in his last three seasons, respectively. With at least 20 points in 2007-08, the Winchester, Mass., native will hit the 200-point mark for his career.

Zach Parise - As a sophomore last season, Parise potted a team-leading 31 goals, bringing his two-year total to 45. In Devils history, only Greg Adams (47) has scored more goals over his first two seasons. Entering his third NHL campaign, the Minneapolis native is just six points away from reaching the 100-point milestone for his career.

Mike Rupp - Selected with New Jersey's seventh round pick in the 2000 Entry Draft, Rupp's four-year NHL career has included stops in Phoenix and Columbus. The Cleveland native's next game will bring his career total for games played to 200.

Kevin Weekes - The Toronto native won a career-high 23 games while a member of the Carolina Hurricanes in '03-04, and needs four more victories to reach the 100-win mark.

The new 82-game schedule once again features eight meetings with each of the Devils' Atlantic Division rivals, while also including visits from the teams of the Pacific – Chris Pronger and the Anaheim Ducks; Mike Modano and the Dallas Stars; Rob Blake and the Los Angeles Kings; Shane Doan and the Phoenix Coyotes; and Joe Thornton and the San Jose Sharks.

The Devils will head out to meetings with the Northwest Division, facing Jarome Iginla and the Flames in Calgary; Joe Sakic and the Avalanche in Colorado; Sheldon Souray and the Oilers in Edmonton; Marian Gaborik and the Wild in Minnesota; and Roberto Luongo and the Canucks in Vancouver.

Stay tuned all season long to for the best in Devils game coverage and multimedia, including the all-new NJD TV video player with searchable game highlights and player interviews!
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