Brodeur gears up for start vs. Red Wings
NEWARK, N.J. -- It has been almost two months since New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur last suited up and started a hockey game at Prudential Center.
Though he's excited to get that chance Tuesday against the Detroit Red Wings, there's also the possibility this may turn out to be Brodeur's curtain call with the organization, making for what should be an emotional atmosphere against an opponent the Devils are chasing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The NHL Trade Deadline is Wednesday at 3 p.m. ET, and Brodeur's name has surfaced as a potential target of other contenders. NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes reported earlier this week that Brodeur waived his no-trade clause, but whether the goalie revealed a list of teams he'd be willing to play for remains to be seen.
We could learn of that decision as early as the conclusion of the game Tuesday.
"Our priority is still to win a hockey game and Marty is in net; he'll give us the best chance and we'll see what happens [Wednesday]," Brodeur's longest-tenured teammate, Patrik Elias, said. "He's obviously been one constant in my career sitting beside me all the time. It would be sad to see him go, but at the same time I can see where he's coming from."
Brodeur's last appearance on home ice came Jan. 7 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers. He made his first start in nine games Saturday in an 18-save, 6-1 victory against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum. Cory Schneider had started the previous seven games prior to Saturday.
"He's a leader in the room and a guy we look to in tough times," Devils forward Adam Henrique said. "He's had so much success here and he's a great guy in the room. He likes to have fun and keep things loose. Whatever happens, happens, but I think he's excited to play against the Red Wings."
In 19 career regular-season games against the Red Wings, Brodeur is 9-9-1 with two shutouts, a 2.20 goals-against average and .914 save-percentage.
Elias was asked what it has meant to him to sit alongside Brodeur the past 15 seasons in New Jersey. Brodeur, who holds career goalie records for games played, wins, shutouts and minutes played, is in his 20th season with the Devils.
"For me to practice every day against maybe the best goalie to ever play the game is special," he said. "Playing with him and winning those two Stanley Cup titles with him were special events. Some of our greatest moments we did on the same night. It's something I'll remember forever, but hopefully that's not over for us."
Rumors of a possible trade involving Brodeur began to surface last month when the 41-year-old goalie, who is in the final year of his contract, expressed some concern over his lack of playing time. Brodeur (14-11-4) has played 29 games and Schneider has played in 34 (12-12-9).
"He wants to play more than he does," Elias said. "For us, it's great to have these two good goalies behind us since it gives us the best chance, but the decision is not up to us."
Elias acknowledged Brodeur is a proud goalie and still believes he could have an impact for a team in contention for the Stanley Cup.
"We all come to that point in our career when everyone is replaceable; but when the trade happened to get Schneider [last June] you knew he would get more chances playing in the future," Elias said. "I still feel [Brodeur] is a top goalie in the League, no question about it. He wants to play and looks like he'll get a better chance somewhere else. Again, I hope it's not going to happen because, being selfish, it would be great to have those two goalies."
The Red Wings own the second and final wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have a three-point lead with two games in hand on the Devils. The teams will play twice in a span of four days.
"I'm excited to play a game," Brodeur said Monday. "That's going to help because at least I'm going to be busy thinking about the game and after that I'll probably just shut off my phone, maybe. We'll see."
Henrique said he cannot even imagine Brodeur playing for another team other than the Devils.
"It would be crazy," Henrique said. "Nobody has ever thought that before and he's the face of this franchise; he always will be."
Detroit coach Mike Babcock was asked what impressed him the most about Brodeur.
"Longevity," Babcock said. "Look at the goalies today, their size and all the hip injuries because of butterfly. I don't know if a guy could be as good for so long as he has been. Obviously, the style New Jersey plays has helped and his ability to play the puck has helped, but he's flat out been a star for a long, long time.
"From the outside looking at the situation, if you have been this long with one team and you could retire with that team, you've hit it out of the park."
Devils defenseman Bryce Salvador (bruised collarbone) and forward Damien Brunner (charley horse in left leg) both practiced Tuesday and are expected to return to the lineup following a two-game absence.
Here is the possible lineup for the Devils:
Dainius Zubrus - Travis Zajac - Jaromir Jagr
Adam Henrique - Patrik Elias - Damien Brunner
Ryane Clowe - Andrei Loktionov - Michael Ryder
Ryan Carter - Stephen Gionta - Steve Bernier
Andy Greene - Mark Fayne
Bryce Salvador - Marek Zidlicky
Eric Gelinas - Jon Merrill
Scratched: Peter Harrold, Jacob Josefson, Anton Volchenkov