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Minus Brodeur, a different approach for all involved

Wednesday, 11.05.2008 / 3:25 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"What I think it does now though is teams will walk into this building with the feeling they can win and I'm not sure how many times that was the case before. I think with Marty in net, you always knew you were only going to get, at most, 2 or 3 goals, if that. So, that said, maybe that changes the mindset of teams coming in."
-- Barry Melrose

NEWARK, N.J. -- A year ago, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury went down with a high ankle sprain and was lost for nearly 2 months. Ty Conklin took over and, as you already know, the Penguins didn't miss a beat.

Fleury knows people will draw comparisons between what happened to Pittsburgh last season and what the New Jersey Devils are transitioning to right now with Kevin Weekes taking over for the injured Brodeur, but the Penguins goalie told NHL.com that it's quite different because of who is involved.

Fleury’s no Martin Brodeur, at least not yet.

"When you think about the Devils, you always think about Marty Brodeur," Fleury said. "When you play them, you not only have to beat the Devils, but you have to beat Marty Brodeur to win the game. Marty Brodeur is not an easy guy to replace."

Fleury instead compared Brodeur to Sidney Crosby, who the Penguins also lost for roughly 2 months last season with a similar high ankle sprain. Both are superstars and the faces of their respective teams.

The Penguins survived without Crosby and Fleury. Now it's up to the Devils to survive without Brodeur, who will have surgery Thursday morning to repair the distal biceps in his left elbow and will be sidelined 3-4 months.

How this affects the landscape in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference remains to be seen, but if you want to use the Penguins as an example, well then the Devils should be just fine.

"Every team always has to adjust to injuries, but when you lose a guy like Marty it's on a bigger scale than other players because he's a goalie who plays 95 percent of the minutes," Philadelphia Flyers goalie Martin Biron told NHL.com. "It's totally different, but I saw the game against Buffalo the other night and in those situations it always gives the team something more to look for. If you go through this and you come out on top you feel so much better (about) everything you achieved."

Biron recalled that happening in his rookie season of 1999-2000 when he was with the Buffalo Sabres and Dominik Hasek, one of the best goalies in the League at that time with Brodeur and Patrick Roy, was lost early in the season with a groin/hip injury.

Biron stepped in and kept the Sabres in playoff position for Hasek's return. The Sabres finished third in the Northeast Division and eighth in the Eastern Conference.

The Devils are hoping for better than that, but it's something to rally around nonetheless.

"When (Hasek) came back, we were still in playoff position and we felt good about what we were able to accomplish without a Vezina or Hart winner," Biron said. "Nobody could say, 'You did it, but Hasek was there to save you.' No, we did it without him."

Just like the Penguins did it without Fleury and Crosby last season, but Devils coach Brent Sutter quickly shot down that comparison.

"I haven't even thought about it," Sutter said. "I am thinking of the New Jersey Devils. Teams survive injuries. It's a big mistake if you think you live and die by one player."

Maybe so, but when that one player happens to be one of the most durable and successful goalies in NHL history, you can understand why Rangers coach Tom Renney would suggest that everyone in the division should "make hay" of the situation while Brodeur is on the shelf.
"When you think about the Devils, you always think about Marty Brodeur. When you play them, you not only have to beat the Devils, but you have to beat Marty Brodeur to win the game. Marty Brodeur is not an easy guy to replace." -- Marc-Andre Fleury
"What I think it does now though is teams will walk into this building with the feeling they can win and I'm not sure how many times that was the case before," Tampa Bay Lightning coach Barry Melrose told NHL.com prior to Wednesday's game in New Jersey. "I think with Marty in net, you always knew you were only going to get, at most, 2 or 3 goals, if that. So, that said, maybe that changes the mindset of teams coming in."

Fleury mentioned how different it'll be just being on the ice when the Penguins play the Devils next on Nov. 29.

 
 
"It'll be different when we play them, but it's a good opportunity for Kevin Weekes and for (Scott) Clemmensen to show what they can do," Fleury said.

Biron wonders how the loss of Brodeur will affect the Devils style. Sutter claims that it won't, but Weekes isn't Brodeur when it comes to playing the puck.

"Not only does Marty stop the puck well, he plays a style with his defenseman that is something you always have to prepare for," Biron said. "It's the NHL and everybody in this League is definitely here for a reason. You can see some really great things from unexpected people in times of challenge like this."

Melrose expects that from Weekes and the Devils.

"The Devils are going to circle around Weekes and Clemmensen and be even better defensively," Melrose said. "They'll still be fine. If any team can overcome the loss of a goalie, it's the Devils. They'll tighten up."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com



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