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Jay Pandolfo admits tonight’s game against Devils ‘will definitely be strange’

For 13 seasons, checking forward Jay Pandolfo was a member of the New Jersey Devils organization. He played 819 regular season games, 131 postseason contests and won two Stanley Cups as a defensive-minded winger for the franchise. Pandolfo hasn’t played a regular season game in the NHL in any other uniform, despite the fact that his last game was on April 11, 2010.

If Pandolfo ever wants to register another NHL game, he’ll have to do it in another jersey. He’s hoping to earn a roster spot with the Devils’ regional rivals the New York Islanders, which means that he’ll need to impress during his preseason tryout.

A big part of that effort could come tonight, as Pandolfo will suit up with the Islanders against his long-time allies. (The game should be in progress by the time you’re reading this.)

There are certain mitigating factors that might cut down on the awkwardness a bit. For one thing, it’s a preseason game; even if it’s a big deal for Pandolfo, it won’t be for many of his former teammates. Speaking of former teammates, the number of familiar faces should be lower since it’s been a full season since he interacted with them.

That being said, Pandolfo admitted that it will still be a little weird when discussing the subject with Tom Gulitti.

“I think so,” Pandolfo said of tonight’s game being strange. “It probably would have been a lot weirder last year, but it’s been a year in between. It won’t be as weird. It seems like there’s not as many guys there either that I know. It’s different. But it will definitely be strange. I’ve only played for one team my whole career, so it will be different.”

Pandolfo was teammates at one time with only eight of the 20 players the Devils will dress tonight.

(snip)

He knows that if he doesn’t win a job with the Islanders his playing career is probably over.

“Most likely,” he said. “I don’t know about definitely, but just getting a chance to be in training camp the same time as everyone else is playing that benefits me rather than just waiting again. I’m going to wait and see what happens with this. I’m in shape and playing at the same time everyone else is, so obviously I want it to work out here, but if it doesn’t then we’ll go from there.”

Pandolfo spent a chunk of last season with the Springfield Falcons (the Columbus Blue Jackets’ AHL affiliate), but decided to end his tryout with that team after his surgically repaired shoulder proved to be a continued problem. Pandolfo said that he had some discussions with the Boston Bruins regarding a tryout last summer, but that didn’t pan out. He also spoke “a bunch” with Devils GM Lou Lamoriello about his future, which presumably indicates that he might join their front office once his career is over.

Before he decides to put on a suit as a hockey executive, he’ll get a chance to stay in an NHL sweater for at least one more night. How well he plays against his former team might just determine if he can wear one for a bit longer.

Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

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The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

“Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

“That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

More on the statue from the Devils:

The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

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The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

“It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

“You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

“We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

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In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

— He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

— From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

— Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

The Islanders also have a game in hand.

Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

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The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.