by pcoffey on 11/13/13 at 11:00 AM ET
So much for Martin Brodeur riding off into the sunset, eh?
Brodeur had pretty much said his days as the New Jersey Devils' top goalie were done back on Oct. 19, when his slow start and the presence of Cory Schneider told Brodeur he should expect to spend a lot of time at the end of the Devils' bench. Heck, there were even stories that Brodeur would consider a trade to a playoff-bound team if New Jersey fell out of contention.
But now, Brodeur is back on the ice and doing his level best to get the Devils into the postseason, with the most recent example of turning back the clock being Wednesday's 3-2 win over the New York Rangers.
With the win, Brodeur now is 5-1-0 in his last six starts with two shutouts. After posting back-to-back shutouts against Philadelphia and Nashville, Brodeur's shutout streak jumped to 191:21 before Marc Staal scored for the Rangers at 6:55 of the second period.
Brodeur wasn't the least bit disappointed, noting that the quality of saves he had to make against the Rangers exceeded those needed against the Flyers and Predators. Brodeur stopped 33 of 35 shots at Madison square Garden. He needed to make 22 saves against the Flyers and only 15 against Nashville.
“I got (almost) the same amount of shots in that one game than I got in the two shutouts I got,” Brodeur said after the win. “The quality of saves that I needed to make was a lot different than the two shutout games. I’ll trade (a shutout for) a big win like that any time. It was a real fun game to play.”
Brodeur figured his time as the Devils' top dog was over when Schneider blanked the Rangers, 4-0, in the Oct. 19th game at Prudential Center. The rivalry with the Rangers had been Brodeur's personal domain seemingly forever, and not to start against New York was a sign of things to come. And in all likliehood, it probably is. Brodeur is 41, after all, and Schneider is the future for the Devils. But thanks to his strong play in bouncing back, Brodeur seems to have plenty to say about the team's present.
“I love playing against these guys, there’s no doubt about that, like (Henrik) Lundqvist loves to play against us,” Brodeur said. “I’m sure he does. I’m not 100 percent sure.
"I’ve learned to leave it to the coaches to make these decisions. I’ll never say boo about things like that because karma goes a long way. I’ve learned that from the past. I’ll never ask for anything, but I’m always ready to play.”
It was an impressive performance for a couple of reasons. The Rangers had won three straight and six of their previous seven coming into the game, so the Devils knew they would face a quality foe in a rivalry game. New Jersey also had to play shorthanded on defense after Anton Volchenkov was injured in the first period, leaving only five defensemen in the lineup.
“The Rangers were pushing pretty hard. Marty made key saves at key times for us, which is what we need,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It’s not like us to give up that number of shots, but we had some fatigue issues and some guys that were really trying to empty the tank.”
New Jersey still has a ways to go, but the Devils seem to be shaking off the doldrums of a poor start to the season. New Jersey was 0-4-3 to start the season and are now 6-3-2 in their last 11 games. Over that span, both Brodeur and Schneider have played very well. And the team's offense, which was AWOL in back-to-back shutout losses to the Flyers and Wild, has scored 12 goals in the last four games (3-0-1).
“Marty had a couple games in a row where he didn’t allow any goals and I think he’s back to where he used to be and where he wants to be,” Dainius Zubrus told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I think our goalies are the least of our worries on our team. Marty’s playing great. Schneider has had good for us as well. We always going into games knowing they’re going to do their part. We’ve just got to get other things going.”
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