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Game 26 Preview: Looking For A Big Win Against The Pens

December 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Tonight’s Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (8-16-2) face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins (18-8-2) tonight at the CONSOL Energy Center. It’s the second of six meetings between the two teams this season. The Penguins lead the current season series, 1-0-0.

The Last Devils Game: The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Devils, 5-3, Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. New Jersey jumped out to a 2-1 lead after one period. But the Flyers fought back, scoring three straight goals between the second and third periods to take a 4-3 lead. The Devils cut the deficit to one, but couldn’t tie the game late in the final period.

The Last Penguins Game: The Penguins destroyed the Columbus Blue Jackets, 7-2, Saturday night in Pittsburgh. The Pens scored four goals in the first period – including two on the powerplay – to lead 4-0 after the first period. The Pens put the Blue Jackets away, scoring three goals over the final two periods.

The Last Devils – Penguins Game: The Penguins beat the Devils, 3-1, on October 10 at the Prudential Center. The Devils, playing with 15 skaters because of injury, fell behind, 1-0, after Alex Goligosky scored a first period goal. Mark Letestu extended the lead to 2-0 in the second period. Patrik Elias cut the deficit to 2-1 in the third period, but the Devils couldn’t tie the game. Ex-Devil Paul Martin clinched the win with an empty-netter.

Stepping Out of the Igloo: The Devils will play their first game in the CONSOL Energy Center. The Mellon Arena, or the “Igloo”, will suffer the same fate as the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The Penguins new digs are LEED gold-certified and was voted one of the best arenas in all of sports.

Tonight’s Matchup: The game features two teams going in two very different directions. After struggling early, the Penguins caught fire. In their last ten games, Pittsburgh is 9-0-1, earning 19 of a possible 20 points. Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed two goals or less in his last 11 games, and Sidney Crosby has 17 goals and 14 assists on his current point streak.

The Devils, on the other hand, are trending in the wrong direction. After winning three of four games two weeks ago, the team dropped two in a row. It’s been feast or famine offensively, and the defense plays suspect. Inconsistent efforts doomed New Jersey, especially in the second period of games.

Devils’ captain Jamie Langenbrunner acknowledged that another poor effort could lead to a blowout loss.

“When you face a team like that, you have to be at your best or they embarrass you,” Langenbrunner said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I think if we go in with any mindset other than that, it will get ugly.”

The key for tonight’s game is simple – consistency. As Langenbrunner said above, the Devils need a sixty minute effort tonight. If they slip up for one shift, it can cost them the game. New Jersey can’t give Pittsburgh any extra opportunities. The Devils need to limit the turnovers and give the effort their capable of giving. Pittsburgh is playing unreal hockey right now, and allowing them to capitalize on mistakes will doom the Devils. A win over their rivals would be huge, but it won’t come easy. A consistent effort throughout the game will go a long way towards  getting the Devils a much-needed victory tonight.

Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660AM. Here is the projected lineup for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Dainius Zubrus; Brian Rolston – Adam Mair – David Clarkson; Mattias Tedenby – Rod Pelley

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Mark Fayne; Anton Volchenkov – Olivier Magnan; Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Martin Brodeur

Game 24 Preview: It’s A Family Affair

December 2, 2010 Leave a comment

Tonight’s Matchup: The Montreal Canadiens (15-8-2) face off against the New Jersey Devils (8-14-2) tonight at the Prudential Center. It’s the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. The Devils lead the current season series, 1-0-0.

The Last Canadiens Game: The Habs blew a third period lead and lost to the Edmonton Oilers, 4-3, last night in Montreal. Down, 3-1, in the third period, the Oilers began the comeback with a goal from Ales Hemsky at 10:09 of the period. Sam Gagner tied it in the third, and Dustin Penner scored the overtime winner.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers, 2-1, in a shootout Saturday afternoon at the Rock. Adam Mair struck first, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead in the first period. New Jersey held the lead until the third period, when Daniel Briere tied the game on a powerplay goal. Travis Zajac scored the shootout winner, beating Brian Boucher high to the glove side for the win.

The Last Canadiens – Devils Game: The Devils blanked the Canadiens, 3-0, on October 21 at the Bell Centre. Zach Parise, Jason Arnott and Matt Taormina provided the offense, and Martin Brodeur stopped 29 shots for the shutout.

Brotherly Love: Stephen Gionta will face off against ex-Devil and brother Brian Gionta tonight, the first time they’ve faced each other in their professional careers. Stephen wears number 14, the same number Brian wore while with the Devils. Brian is the better goal scorer and will probably have a greater impact on the outcome of the game. Regardless, it’ll still be fun to watch. Maybe they’ll get into a few battles along the boards.

Tonight’s Matchup: After winning three of four games last week (and playing four out of the seven days), the Devils earned a well-deserved four day break. But those breaks can take a team off their game, especially one that’s just beginning to develop some momentum. The biggest key of tonight’s matchup will be intensity. If the Devils play fast and smart, they can wear down the Canadiens early. Remember, the Canadiens did play last night and travel to New Jersey. The Devils will hold a decisive edge in rest, and they need to take advantage of that tonight.

Intensity will only get them so far. The Devils need to finish their scoring chances tonight. As we all know, that’s been the biggest challenge this season. The Canadiens, however, usually provide the remedy to cure the Devils’ problems. Carey Price is having a great season (14-7-2, 2.04 goals-against average and .932 save percentage), but hasn’t played well against the Devils. New Jersey should find a way to beat the Habs tonight. It’s almost like clockwork against them.

Jamie Langenbrunner and Matt Corrente both return tonight for the Devils. Alexander Vasyunov and Olivier Magnan are healthy scratches.

Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660AM. Here is the projected lineup for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Jamie Langenbrunner; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Dainius Zubrus – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Mark Fayne – Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna

Game 23 Preview: No Letdowns Against The Lowly Islanders

November 26, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (7-13-2) face off against the New York Islanders (4-12-5) at Nassau Coliseum. It’s the first of six meetings between the two teams this season.

The Last Devils Game: The Devils defeated the Calgary Flames, 2-1, in a shootout Wednesday night at the Rock. David Clarkson deflected a puck past Henrik Karlsson to give the Devils’ a 1-0 lead. New Jersey wouldn’t hold it, as Rene Bourque tied the game, 1-1, in the third period. Ilya Kovalchuk tallied the only goal in the shootout to lead the Devils to victory. Johan Hedberg stopped 25 shots for the win.

The Last Islanders Game: The Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Islanders, 4-3, Wednesday night on Long Island. The teams traded leads throughout two periods, and ended the middle frame tied, 3-3. Jakub Voracek played hero in overtime, scoring the game-winner at 2:31 of the period. The loss sent the Isles to their 14th straight loss.

The Last Devils – Islanders Game: The Devils and Isles faced off six times last season, with New Jersey winning the season series, 4-2-0. The Devils pounded the Islanders, 7-1, in their final meeting of the season to win the Atlantic Division.

Dainius ZubrusDean McAmmond and Zach Parise scored within a span of 4:54 to put the Devils ahead, 3-0, in the first period. Zubrus opened the scoring, giving the Devils a lead at 10:54 of the first period. Parise increased the lead to 2-0 at 14:18 of the period with an even-strength tally. McAmmond finished the first period scoring, extending the lead to 3-1 with an even-strength goal.

The Devils stretched the lead to 5-0 in the second period. Patrik Elias scored on the man-advantage at 11:16 of the second, increasing the lead to 4-0. Brian Rolston would answer with a powerplay tally, putting the Devils ahead, 5-0, at 19:11 of the period.

New Jersey continued the scoring in the third period. Kovalchuk continued the rout, netting an even-strength goal at 8:47 to increase the lead to 6-0. Matt Moulson ended the shutout, scoring a powerplay goal at 13:10 of the period to put the Islanders on the board. Elias capped the scoring, netting his second goal at 18:24 of the period.

Tonight’s Matchup: The Devils finally won two games in a row against the Flames, marking the first time this season the team won consecutive games. Now they head to Long Island, where the team will look to continue the good times.

It finally feels like the Devils have something going. The second line looks awesome, the defensive play improved, and Hedberg gives the Devils a solid option in net. The two games showed a marked improvement in all aspects of the Devils play. The Isles provide the opportunity to continue the recent success. Losers of 14 straight, the Islanders are clearly struggling. But it’s not a lack of effort that cost the team wins. Some bad breaks and bad luck have largely driven their skid. Therefore, the Devils can’t sleep on their Atlantic Division rivals.

New Jersey needs to come out with pressure from the drop of the puck. They didn’t effectively pressure Calgary, and while they still won, the Devils didn’t create many scoring chances. The Isles will come into this game hungry and firing on all cylinders. Pressuring in all three zones will slow their game and could discourage the Isles from taking chances. That’ll help the Devils take control of the game.

New Jersey also needs to improve on their offensive play. During Wednesday’s game, the team failed to connect on their passes and looked sloppy through the neutral zone. They continually struggled to set up the offense, which stopped the team from setting up many great scoring chances. That inability forced the shootout and allowed Calgary to hang around the entire game. With a struggling team, the Devils need to take advantage early. Offensive pressure in the Isles zone play could break down, leading to some early scoring chances for the Devils.

Gametime is 1 p.m., and you can check all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN 660 AM. Here are the projected starting lineups:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Mark Fayne – Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna

Game 22 Preview: Sutter Comes Back to the Rock

November 24, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup – The Calgary Flames (8-11-1) face off against the New Jersey Devils (6-13-2) at the Prudential Center. It is the first and only meeting between the two teams this season.

The Last Flames Game – The New York Rangers defeated the Flames, 2-1, Monday night at MSG. In a game filled with hard hits and rough play, goals were tough to come by. The Flames gave the Rangers a golden opportunity to take the lead when Curtis Glencross went of for high-sticking in the second period. Dan Girardi made the Flames pay, scoring the game-winner on that powerplay chance at 12:14 of the period.

The Last Devils Game – The Devils dismantled the Washington Capitals, 5-0, Monday night at the Rock. Patrik EliasJason Arnott and Mattias Tedenby scored first period goals to put the Devils ahead, 3-0. They wouldn’t look back, tallying two more in the first ten minutes of the middle period to take a 5-0 lead. Johan Hedberg finished with 30 saves for his 15th career shutout.

The Last Flames – Devils Game – The Flames defeated the Devils, 5-3, in Calgary. Zach Parise opened the game’s scoring at 13:37 of the first period, giving the Devils a 1-0 lead. It would stay that way until the second period, when the Flames came out red hot. Daymond Langkow evened the score, 1-1, at 1:43 of the second period. Glencross gave the Flames a lead, tallying a shorthanded goal at 5:41 of the period. Eric Nystrom continued the scoring, increasing the lead to two with a goal at 16:04 of the period.

The Flames weren’t done scoring. Matt Stajan continued the goal streak, increasing the lead to 4-1 at 9:29 of the third period. David Moss scored 33 seconds later to push the lead to 5-1. But the Devils wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Parise scored again, tallying a powerplay goal at 16:08 to bring the Devils within three goals, shrinking the Flames lead, 5-2. Ilya Kovalchuk brought the Devils to within two, scoring at 17:26 to shorten the Flames lead, 5-3.

But it would be too little too late, as the Devils couldn’t complete the comeback and defeat their former coach, Brent Sutter. Martin Brodeur stopped 20 shots in the loss. Mikka Kiprusoff made 22 saves for the win.

For a full recap, including historical data of the matchup, check our season preview post.

Hello Old Friend – The Devils welcome back former coach Brent Sutter to the Rock. It’s the first time Sutter has visited the Prudential Center since leaving the organization at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Sutter, who wanted to leave the Devils to be closer to his family and the Red Deer Rebels, took the Flames coaching job shortly after leaving the Devils. The contract dripped of conspiracy, but Sutter maintains that he wasn’t looking for a coaching opportunity.

“Strictly put, I resigned here because of all the right reasons and if I wasn’t going to be coaching in Calgary, which was an opportunity because Lou gave them permission to talk to me, I wouldn’t have coached last year,” Sutter said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I went home for the right reasons. I went home because it was the right thing to do because there are things bigger than the team. I made that decision based on that.”

Even if he did it for the right reasons, he’ll probably be booed tonight.

For the rest of the recap, read after the jump!

Read more…

Game 21 Preview: Looking To Slay A Giant

November 22, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The Washington Capitals (14-5-2) face off against the New Jersey Devils (5-13-2). This is the second of four meetings between the two teams this season. Washington currently leads the season series, 1-0-0.

The Last Capitals Game: The Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Capitals, 5-4, in a shootout Saturday night in Philadelphia. Down 3-1 in the third period, the Capitals used two straight powerplay tallies to tie the game. The teams then traded goals, ending regulation in a 4-4 tie. Danny Briere scored the lone goal in the shootout to give the Flyers the win.

The Last Devils Game:
The St. Louis Blues edged the Devils, 3-2, Saturday night in St. Louis. Tied 2-2 in the third period, Brad Winchester scored the game-winner, deflecting a point shot past Mike McKenna for the 3-2 lead. The Devils couldn’t solve Jaroslav Halak, who stopped 35 shots for the win.

The Last Capitals – Devils Game: The Capitals blew out the Devils, 7-2, on October 9 at the Verizon Center. New Jersey held a 2-1 advantage at the end of the first period, but the wheels fell off in the second. The Capitals scored four straight goals in the middle period – highlighted by two goals in less than a minute – to take a 5-2 lead. Martin Brodeur was pulled after two periods of play.

Tonight’s Matchup: This has the feeling of a David vs. Goliath matchup. The Capitals are their usual dominate selves, leading the entire league in points and looking like an unstoppable force. The Devils, meanwhile, haven’t caught many breaks during the season. This has the feeling of a blowout in the making.

The Devils need to continue their solid play. Saturday night’s game in St. Louis was disappointing because of the bad breaks against the Devils, not their overall play. They put 37 shots on net and played a relatively sound defensive game. But as its been all season, New Jersey couldn’t catch a break. The puck wouldn’t cooperate with the Devils, as it’s been the entire season, and cost the Devils.

Tonight’s important key will be the Devils’ discipline. The Caps have scored at least one powerplay goal in eight of their last 11 games, going 14-for-38 (36.8%) during that stretch. Giving a talented offensive team powerplay chances won’t bode well for the Devils, especially with their struggling penalty kill. I can’t expect New Jersey to play a game without taking a penalty, but they can’t be undisciplined. The team doesn’t need to give Alex Ovechkin and his talented teammates more ice to work with.

The Devils need this win tonight. Beating the Caps would show the team still has the ability to slay the power teams in the the conference. It would also be a nice start to the next 10 game segment. The Devils can’t continually lose points. They’re in no position to be careless with points. The team needs a win badly, and it would be a nice to get it over the Caps.

Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus or WFAN AM. Here’s a shot at the potential lineup for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Johan Hedberg; Mike McKenna

Game 20: Looking To Shake The Blues

November 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The New Jersey Devils (5-12-2) face off against the St. Louis Blues (10-5-3). It is the first and only matchup of the season between the two teams.

The Last Devils Game: The Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Devils, 3-1, Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre. Mikhail Grabovski and Phil Kessel gave the Maple Leafs an early 2-0 lead in the second period. Dainius Zubrus brought the Devils to within 2-1, but the team couldn’t solve Jonas GustavssonKris Versteeg put the Devils away with a powerplay goal in the third period to put the Leafs ahead, 3-1. Gustavsson, who stopped 12 pucks in the third period, made 29 saves for the win.

The Last Blues Game: The Blues defeated the Ottawa Senators, 5-2, Friday night. The second period was the game’s turning point, as the Blues scored three goals to bury the Sens.

The Last Devils – Blues Game: The Devils and Blues faced off once last season, which the Blues won, 1-0. Alex Steen would score the game’s only goal at 19:47 of the first period. Steen found an open lane down the left side of the ice, where he received a pass from Barret Jackman. Steen rifled the shot past Martin Brodeur’s glove for the game-winning goal. Ty Conklin finished with 29 saves for the win. Brodeur stopped 19 shots in the loss.

For a full historical preview of the matchup with the St. Louis Blues, check our season preview post.

McKenna Gets The Call: Devils goalie Mike McKenna, called up as an emergency replacement for Brodeur, will make his first start of the season tonight. McKenna, whose from St. Louis, showed a contained excitement during today’s morning skate.

“It’s exciting to come home, but this is a business trip,” McKenna told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “We really need to win some games. If we win the game, I’m going to have a lot of fun.”

In 15 career NHL games, McKenna is 4-8-1 with one shutout and a 3.56 goals-against average. In seven games for the Albany Devils this season, McKenna went 2-4-0 with a 3.72 goals-against average and a .882 save percentage.

Tonight’s Game: The injuries are continuing to mount for the Devils, as Brodeur will miss two weeks to allow his injured right elbow to fully heal. Devils coach John MacLean decided to make the headscratching decision of putting in McKenna tonight. The first key to tonight’s game, therefore, is offense. The Devils need to get some goals on the board early. One look at McKenna’s numbers shows that he’s not a great goalie, and I question his ability to win the game for the Devils. But he is playing in his hometown, and sometimes that can bring out the best in a goalie. Just look at Brodeur’s numbers in Montreal. Maybe (hopefully?) McKenna turns in a great performance.

New Jersey also needs to come out with a sense of urgency tonight. The team needs a win, plain and simple. There’s no more “moral victories” or building block games. The only thing that matters now is wins and points. Failing to get one tonight may cause drastic moves by general manager Lou Lamoriello.

Special teams will once again be the focus of tonight’s game. The Devils power-play is 1-for-36 on the road. That’s a .03 percent completion rate. That’s downright abysmal. The Devils need to make teams pay for making mistakes and taking penalties, but they’ve been unable to do that this season. If they get the opportunity tonight, the Devils need to make the Blues pay while shorthanded. If they can convert one or two of those chances, it would go a long way to restoring confidence in the powerplay and, hopefully, winning the game.

Gametime is 8 p.m., and you can catch all the action on MSG Plus. Here are the potential starting lineups for tonight’s game:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Dainius Zubrus – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Mattias Tedenby; Brian Rolston – Travis Zajac – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Olivier Magnan – Matt Corrente

GOALIES: Mike McKenna; Johan Hedberg

Game 17 Preview: Looking To Strike Oil At Home

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment

The Matchup: The Edmonton Oilers (4-8-2) take on the New Jersey Devils (4-10-2) at the Prudential Center. This is their first and only meeting of the season.

The Last Oilers Game:
The Detroit Red Wings blew out the Oilers, 6-2, last night at Joe Louis Arena. The Red Wings built a 5-0 lead through two periods, marking the second straight game the Oilers allowed five goals. Dustin Penner and Theo Peckham scored third period goals to break the shutout.

The Last Devils Game: The Buffalo Sabres stole one away from the Devils, 5-4, in a shootout Wednesday night at the Prudential Center. The Devils held three leads in the game, but let each slip away. Tyler Ennis scored in the third period to tie the game, and the teams remained scoreless through regulation and the overtime period. Thomas Vanek put the Sabres ahead in the shootout, but Jamie Langenbrunner answered right back. In the fourth round, with the teams tied at 1-1, Derek Roy beat Johan Hedberg to give the Sabres the 2-1 advantage. Ilya Kovalchuk had the chance to keep the Devils in the game, but he lost the puck on his attempt and never got a shot off on Jhonas Enroth.

The Last Oilers – Devils Game: The Oilers defeated the Devils, 2-0, last season in Edmonton. Gilbert Brule broke a scoreless tie at 1:23 of the second period, giving the Oilers a 1-0 lead. Marc Pouliot pushed the lead to 2-0 with a goal at 8:28 of the third period. Jeff Deslauriers stopped 22 shots for the shutout.

For a look at the overall matchup between the two franchises, including historical stats, check our season preview post.

Marty Returns! Martin Brodeur will start tonight’s game after missing two and a half games due to an elbow injury. After what happened two years ago, I’m glad to see him coming back so quickly. Hedberg didn’t do terribly in the relief appearances, but it’s not the same without MB30 between the pipes.

Tonight’s Matchup:
The Devils had their offense rolling Wednesday night, but they forgot the defense. That led to those three blown leads and a shootout loss. The number one objective tonight needs to be putting together a solid defensive effort. If they can repeat the offensive output from Wednesday and play some better defense, then the Devils would set themselves up for a win. But we’ve been asking for a complete game from end-to-end all season, and we’ve only seen that happen four times. Every Devils mistake is becoming a goal right now, so the Devils need these complete games to get their game going.

The Oilers, like the Sabres, should provide a confidence boost and the opportunity for at least a point. In their past two games, Edmonton has been outscored 13-3 while looking absolutely terrible. They’re last in the Western Conference, and while the Devils sit in the same position, I think New Jersey looks like the team more likely to break their skid. The Devils outrank the Oilers in almost every significant category, including goals against and shots for. The Devils need this win, especially on home ice, to inspire confidence and let them know that their offensive efforts are paying off.

New Jersey is still looking for their first home win as well. It’s killing me that they’re this terrible at The Rock. The fans are continuing to come out, and Wednesday night was a loud game. The Devils need to reward their fans and get something going on home ice. The Oilers are the perfect team to help get the Devils going in the right direction.

Langenbrunner will not play tonight with an upper body injury. Brian Rolston will return to the lineup.

Gametime is 7 p.m., and you can watch the game on MSG Plus or listen on WFAN 660 AM. Also, make sure to check out our live game thread, beginning at 6:45! Here’s a guess at tonight’s starting lineup:

FORWARDS: Ilya Kovalchuk – Travis Zajac – Alexander Vasyunov; Patrik Elias – Jason Arnott – Patrik Elias; Brian Rolston – Dainius Zubrus – David Clarkson; Rod Pelley – Adam Mair – Stephen Gionta

DEFENSEMEN: Colin White – Henrik Tallinder; Andy Greene – Anton Volchenkov; Olivier Magnan – Matt Taormina

GOALIES: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg

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