They will come up short in the quest to make the playoffs.

But there is one significant aspect to the Devils' second half of this season that should put a lot of minds at ease.

Goaltender Martin Brodeur has been at the top of his game since early January.

"Right now to me he's at his best of this season," coach Jacques Lemaire said.

"He plays with confidence. He's a lot quicker in the net. I'm sure he feels better about his game. All that adds up."

Brodeur has started the last 15 games. He's gone 9-5-1 over that stretch, but the Devils were shut out in three of those games and broke the team record for the longest scoreless streak.

"I think personally he's been playing me a lot. A lot more than I was expected to play down the stretch," Brodeur said. "I think for me to feel the way I'm feeling-- I feel that I make a difference every game and I'm playing solid-- I just want to keep it up for my own sanity, I guess, to the summer. To know I was able to contribute and still make a difference.

"I think it was hard on me early on in the season. I have a few more games to go and I just want to play them well."

He is now 22-24-3. Those are strange stats for him.

"Just the wins. The losses are about the same," Brodeur said with a laugh. "The goals-against average is the same as last year.

"But it's not satisfying at all. I'm used to better stats than that. I think it was bound to happen one year and hopefully I think I'm reflecting the team because I play a lot of games."

And the team, one point from elimination?

"We just have to have a good effort every night. We're all professionals," Brodeur pointed out. "Because the playoffs are out of reach, it doesn't mean you can't win games."