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This long shot might pay off

At the start of the Stanley Cup final, the Las Vegas odds of a New Jersey sweep were 25-1. The odds of New Jersey winning in five were 18-1.

At the time, Las Vegas hockey columnist Bobby Bryde said it was an excellent bet. One reason: The Devils' playoff opponents were 84-50-1 in the regular season. The Red Wings' opponents were 60-67-17.

"That's a huge discrepancy," said Bryde, who makes his living betting on his hockey picks. "Whether or not anybody knows hockey, that stat alone should make you bet New Jersey."

Another reason Bryde cited: "As soon as Scott Stevens breathes on him, (Sergei) Fedorov will disappear."

What have you done lately?

New Jersey native Jim Dowd, who scored the Devils' game-winning goal Tuesday night in Game 2, was back in street clothes for Game 3. Playing in his place was Sergei Brylin, who also took Dowd's spot in Game 1.

"Just because a player scores a goal doesn't mean he will play the next game; I don't think that way," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "Hey, the second game is past."

It's no place like home

The Devils have nicknamed their hotel "Marriott at Gunpoint." It's actually the Marriott at Glen Point, the Devils' New Jersey home since the playoffs began nearly two months ago.

Lemaire wants his players to avoid the distractions of being at home _ the wife, the children, that neighbor who wants tickets.

"The guys have been pretty good about it," forward Bill Guerin said. "And the coach is pretty lenient. If something has to be done, you can get permission (to go home)."

Guerin paused, then added: "I talk about it like it's leave _ a one-day pass."

Former Lightning defenseman Shawn Chambers has lived in three different hotels since being traded to New Jersey in March. "I've seen my son (Connor) about a total of eight days since he was born (14 days after the trade)," Chambers said. "I'll never get that time back."

And what about distractions at the Marriott at Gunpoint? When you call the hotel, the operator says, "By orders of Jacques Lemaire, messages are taken."

Hey, can I borrow your pen?

Not only do the Devils have the most Americans of any team in the NHL, they also have the most columnists. Ken Daneyko, John MacLean and Dowd all write diaries for local newspapers. Here's a sample from Daneyko: "It's such a great thing when I come home and see my daughter (8-month-old Taylor Lyn). No matter how down you are or hurt you are, or if things are going bad, you look down and see her smiling face and it just lights your eyes. It's something special. She's clapping now. My wife has taught her how to cheer for the Devils already."

He couldn't bear to watch

Detroit forward Keith Primeau, who couldn't play in Game 2 because of a torn stomach muscle, also couldn't watch Game 2. "It was too nerve-racking," he said.

Quotebook

"I don't care how good you are; sometimes you have to have luck." _ Detroit goalie Mike Vernon.

_ CAMMY CLARK

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