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Blogging on Brodeur

Wednesday, 03.18.2009 / 12:23 AM / Brodeur Watch

By NHL.com Staff

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18

Good night!
03.18.2009 / 12:18 a.m.

Well, that's all for now. We're closing shop her at the Prudential Center, putting paid to a 14-plus hour day at the Prudential Center, a day that none of the NHL.com staff would trade for a traditional 8-hour work day.

In my humble opinion, we have put together not only a blog that does this magical night justice, but an editorial package that truly captures the spirit of both record-breaking performances that occured on this unforgettable St. Patrick's Day. We hope that you read and enjoy it all.

We'll probably check in with a few odds and ends as we clean out notebooks and clean off tape recorders tomorrow, so make sure you check back.

It was a pleasure sharing this event with you and Phil Coffey, Dan Rosen, Mike Morreale, myself and all the NHL.com staff thank you for taking the time to be a part of this memorable night.

Congratulations to Martin Brodeur on win No. 552, the new mark for career wins for a NHL goalie and congrats to Patrik Elias on point No. 702, a new Devil franchise record.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Irish eyes were smiling
03.17.2009 / 12:12 a.m.

Patrik Elias certainly made one of the indelible memories of Tuesday's night's festivities when he took the traditional mini lap on the ice after being named the game's second star, behind -- you guessed it -- Martin Brodeur.

Elias showed up in a plastic green derby atop his head and had just his black thermal undershirt and suspenders on his torso as he waved to the adoring crowd.

So, what was the theory behind that bold fashion statement?

It is my day, right? So, why not?," Elias asked NHL.com, making a play on the fact that Tuesday was St. Patrick's Day. (The hat) was on the ice and Bobby picked it up and I decided to wear it."

The Bobby in question would be one Bobby Holik. He spotted the plastic hat -- at St. Patrick's day favor most likely -- after a fan had tossed it onto the ice in his delirium.

"I saw it laying there and I said why don't we take advantage of it and let somebody use it," Holik told NHL.com. "You've got to have fun. I tell the guys all the time that it is just a game and you have to have fun playing it."

Clearly, on one of the biggest nights of his career, Patrik Elias had no problem taking Holik's words to heart.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Khabibulin shines
03.17.2009 / 12:11 a.m.

During his 13-season career, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin is one of the few to have experienced some measure of success when matched against Devils keeper Martin Brodeur.

While that wasn't the case on Tuesday when Brodeur set the League record for career victories, the 36-year-old Russian still provided his team a chance in the end.

"It's just not one guy," Khabibulin said. "Sometimes, you play better against some teams and sometimes you have trouble and New Jersey just happened to be a team that I played well against in recent times, but that wasn't to be (Tuesday night) and good for Marty."

Khabibulin, who entered Tuesday's game with a 6-2-3 lifetime mark against Brodeur, couldn't withstand an early assault by the Atlantic Division-leading Devils en route to a 3-2 loss before 17,625 at Prudential Center.

Prior to facing the Devils, Khabibulin had held opponents to two-or-fewer goals in 18 of his 30 appearances this season. He sported a respectable 2.43 goals-against average and .921 save percentage while posting a 17-6-5 mark.

"He's been solid for us all year," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said of Khabibulin. "I thought he played well in the first period for us as well. You can't fault him for any of those goals and we talked about playing well in our own zone and coming back and doing the little things that would make a difference to win the game. I think we've made a few strides but must keep going."

The Blackhawks fell behind, 3-0, before battling back to pull within one with under three minutes left in the final period.

Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell felt Khabibulin did all he could to keep the club within striking distance, particularly in the second period when he turned aside 15 shots.

"We didn't give him much help and he made some pretty big saves but we gave them to good of chances," Campbell said. "That's the frustrating part for our hockey club right now."

Khabibulin feels it's just a matter of getting back to basics.

"I felt pretty good even after we fell behind, 2-0, and just tried to stay calm and tried to shut the door to give us a chance to win; a chance to come back," Khabibulin said. "But that shorthanded goal really hurt us to put us behind, 3-0. It was tough."

Devils wing Brian Gionta connected off a picturesque pass from Patrik Elias at the 16:56 mark of the second with his team a man short to give New Jersey that three-goal cushion.

--Mike G. Morreale

What a privilege
03.17.2009 / 12:05 a.m.

Historic moments like the one we all witnessed Tuesday night don't come along too often. That's what makes them memorable. That's what makes them last. That's what makes them special.

This was undoubtedly one of the most special nights of my young career in the sports world.

Not only did I get to be in the building for Martin Brodeur's historic night, but I got to talk to him one-on-one for an exclusive interview before he met the masses in a post-game press conference of Stanley Cup Final proportions.

Brodeur is one of the most congenial professional athletes you will ever meet, and I tell you with a straight face (picture it) that his smile during our interview was as genuine as it was after any of the Stanley Cups he won or Vezina Trophies he was awarded.

He was humbled to the point where even now, after the entire whirlwind surrounding his remarkable achievement, he still can't believe he did it, that his name is at the top of this prestigious list.

You see, this is no small record that Brodeur set tonight. It's the best record for any goaltender in the history of the sport. Winning defines professional athletes and Brodeur is the greatest winner to ever play his position.

That's amazing. It's ridiculous, in fact. It's kind of hard for me to wrap my head around, so imagine what it feels like for him.

So, yeah, when he smiled as he answered my questions tonight, I knew it was for real. There is no mistaking complete and utter joy.

That is what Brodeur was feeling tonight. That's why it was so special to witness it.

- Dan Rosen

TUESDAY, MARCH 17

Breathe it in
03.17.2009 / 11:55 p.m.

OK, let's take a deep breath….and let it out.

Now, let's all reflect on what we saw tonight.

History, folks, and something we may never, ever see again.

Martin Brodeur is on a mission and he's not stopping at 552. Well before he leapt in the air like a kid on a sugar high tonight, Brodeur talked about the next number on his list of attainable goals.

600 wins.

It's not a total stretch to think he could have it by the end of next season.

The Devils have 13 games left this season and you can figure on Brodeur playing in at least 10 of them probably. Say he gets six or seven wins, well now he'd looking at winning 41 or 42 games next season. That's a high number for sure, but Brodeur has already set the mark for wins in a season with 48 in 2006-07 and he's won at least 40 six other times.

So, yes, it can be done.

But, that's not all.

As soon as Brodeur touches 600, you can be sure he'll set his sights on 650, or even 700. The guy is a machine and his new goal is to put this record in the category of Gretzky's 2,857 points, DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak and Cy Young's 511 wins.

They all may all stand the test of time, just like Brodeur's wins record.

- Dan Rosen

BRODEUR EXCLUSIVE Q&A
Dan Rosen | NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. - Martin Brodeur made history Tuesday night with his 552nd victory, giving him sole possession of first place on the NHL's all-time wins list, one better than his childhood idol, Patrick Roy.

Despite all the hysteria that ensued once the final buzzer sounded, NHL.com was still allowed to stop the record-setting goaltender for an exclusive interview moments after he left the Prudential Center ice.

Here is what the man of the night had to say:

NHL.com: There you are with 8.9 seconds left and the faceoff to your left. What are you thinking?

Martin Brodeur: "Just having to play another 10 seconds without getting scored on. It's a little nerve wracking. We got in a position and let in a goal at the end of the game there, but the guys battled really hard in front of me and we pulled it off."

NHL.com: How much of a relief is it now for this record to be yours, that you can now move forward?

MB: "Well, you know, it's kind of nice. We've been having a great season here and the last thing I wanted to do was disturb what was going on when I came back from injury. I know it's a big deal what I just accomplished and I'm happy I was able to do it so quickly so we can concentrate on the last 14 games or so to get us ready as much as we can to get into the playoffs and that's what the major goal is. Definitely, you can't overlook what we did. It was a fun week having to go to Montreal to tie and then come back here on a busy day and win this game."

NHL.com: In your mind, where does the record rank in the hockey history?

MB: "It's all about winning, you know. As an organization, as players, it's something that when you're the guy who has the most wins it says a lot about your career. I have been fortunate to play on great teams and this number will be associated with me for the rest of my life."

NHL.com: Is it overwhelming for you to think that tonight, at least according to the stats, you became the greatest goalie to ever play the game?

MB: "You know, what according to the stats you can say that, but for me there are still a lot of things I want to do, I want to accomplish. I want to challenge for the Stanley Cup again in my career and I'll try to pile up these wins as hard as I can to make it really, really hard on the guy that's going to be behind me."

NHL.com: You were able to tie this record in your hometown with all of your friends and family as well as Patrick Roy in the building. Then, you go ahead and break it in New Jersey, where you have made your career in front of the Devils' fans, your adopted friends and family. Could you have envisioned a more perfect scenario?

MB: "You know what, it worked out well, that's the bottom line. I didn't expect anything from this. I didn't want to pick and choose, but if I had to this is exactly the way I would have drawn it up, that's for sure."

NHL.com: There are three generations of goalies in your family - your dad, you and two of your boys, Anthony and Jeremy. You broke this record with all of them in the building. What does that mean to you?

MB: "I want my kids to enjoy my career and I'm fortunate because sometimes when you do have a career your kids are too young to enjoy it. My kids are old enough now to really know what is going on and I'm sure they are excited about the whole thing. These are great experiences. And, for my dad, it's been written enough. He's been around me my whole career during all of these things, so I'm sure for him to see my kids, his grandkids, enjoy this it's pretty cool."

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com

He does it!
03.17.2009 / 9:30 p.m.

He survived. The  Blackhawks, trailing 3-2, had an offensive-zone faceoff with 8.9 seconds left. Adter a timeout, Chicago won the draw and Cam Barker had a tester that Brodeur fought off. The last-ditch shot was blocked and Brodeur was the all-time wins king of the NHL, surpassing Patrick Roy with win No. 552, a taut 3-2 triumph at the Prudential Center.

We'll have more in a while. We're off to the dressing room as Marty cuts away the net.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Uh oh!
03.17.2009 / 9:26 p.m.

This just got interesting. Dustin Byfulien just scored at the 17:57 mark, pouncing on a turnover and roofing a slapper high to the far side past an out-of-position Martin Brodeur. now, it is 3-2. It was Chicago's 30th shot of the night

Nail-biting time
03.17.2009 / 9:24 p.m.

OK, we are inside 5 minutes and the tension is ratcheting up exponentially.

Martin Brodeur is just 300 seconds away from surpassing Patrick Roy for the most wins by a goalie in NHL History. Presently, the two legends are tied at 551, but Brodeur holds a 3-1 lead against the Blackhawks here at the Prudential Center.

If he can navigate these tense final moments, he will stand alone on the goaltending wins chart, something that means a great deal to the 36-year-old.

By the way, The Rock is ready to explode if Brodeur can find his way to the finish lIne with a lead. It's St. Patrick's Day and the place is sold out and you can easily argue that this is the biggest event in the two-year history of this building.

New Jersey won two of its three Stanley Cups at home, but both were clinched at the Devils' old home just up the road -- Continental Airlines Arena.

We're down to 3 minutes left and its still 3-1, although Bobby Holik just had a great chance. Marty Brodeur has 29 saves and the crowd is breaking out into a "Thank You Marty" chant.

Blood boiling
03.17.2009 / 9:12 p.m.

The building emotions of the third period just b oiled over a bit as Mike Rupp and Ben Eager had a decent scrap to the right of Martin Brodeur at the 9:45 mark of the third.

Eager hit Rupp lightly right after the whistle and Rupp answered with a love tap to Eager's back. At that the gloves were off and the tussle was on. The fight was a draw although Eager scored the takedown at the end. Each player received five minutes for fighting.

The tussle brought some more energy to the crowd -- just announced as a sellout of 17,625 by the way -- which took up another "Marty, Marty, Marty" chant.

With 9 minutes left in the game, it is still 3-1 and Brodeur has 27 saves.

Third period underway
03.17.2009 / 8:52 p.m.

John Madden took an ill-advised penalty just 1:29 into the third, holding Pascal Pelletier behind the Devils net.

But, New Jersey killed that penalty without allowing a shot.

Now, Ben Eager just returned the penalty, taking a slashing penalty in his defensive zone. The Devils don't have a shot on the PP yet, but Brendan Shanahan rang one squarely off the post.

But, that was just the start of the fun.

A few seconds later, the teams had a set-to in the Devil end when Kris Versteeg cuffed Jamie Langenbrunner after the two had been whistled for coincidental minors. Suddenly, Patrik Elias was throwing punches at Versteeg and everyone was congregating along the boards in a mini-melee.

Thirty seconds later, Elias thought he had given his team a 4-1 lead, only to be rebuffed by a premature whistle. Elias deposited a juicy rebound of a Paul martin shot over a prone Nikolai Khabibulin, but the official thought the goalie had smothered the original shot and blew the play dead.

Now, with 13 minutes separating Martin Brodeur from the all-time NHL wins record, New Jersey leads 3-1. Brodeur has made 27 saves.

--Shawn P. Roarke

One record falls
03.17.2009 / 8:38 p.m.

At least somebody will set a record Tuesday night.

Patrik Elias got the point he needed to pass John MacLean and become the franchise's all-time leading scorer with 702 points. Elias' point came off a primary assist on Brian Gionta's shorthanded goal at 16:56 to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

Mike Mottau set Elias off on a 2-on-1 against Brian Campbell. Elias used his speed to go wide and then feed a delicate backhander out of the reach of Campbell and right onto Gionta's stick. Gionta made no mistake, slamming the puck home before Nikolai Khabibulin could get from post to post.

Gionta raced to scoop up the puck and then met Elias and Mottau at the end boards for a hug. Elias was clearly relieved to have the record out of the way, gesticulating wildly and pumping his fist.

The crowd broke into a spontaneous chant of "Patrik, Patrik, Patrik."

But, the celebrating was short-lived as Chicago defenseman Cam Barker broke up Brodeur's shutout bid with a seeing-eye shot from the point for a power-play goal. Somehow the shot -- a one-timer off a pass from Troy Bouwer found its way around to Blackhawks and New Jersey's Paul Martin in front of the net before slipping past a screened Brodeur. The goal came on Chicago's 25th shot.

With two minutes remaining in the period, the Devils PA announcer formally announced that Elias had set the record and the crowd gave Elias a standing ovation, which he acknowledged with a quick wave of the hand before play resumed.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Elias snakebitten
03.17.2009 / 8:23 p.m.

At the end of two periods, New Jersey leads 3-1, despite being out-shot 25-27.
The game suffered through a bit of a plateau, but the intensity is back, thanks to a tripping penalty by Mike Mottau at the 10:32 mark of the second.

Chicago had a decent chance to open the man-advantage situation, but the Devils had an even better chance on a turnover that freed a 3-on-1 rush. Patrick Elias, who needs just a point to become the franchise's leading scorer, was denied when Nikolai kabibulin barely got his blocker on a wrister targeted to the far corner.

Brodeur was asked to make a testing save on Brian Campbell on the return rush, giving him 21 saves. Soon after, the crowd was chanting "Marty's better," a staple of the crowd for the past few years.

With 14 minutes gone in second, each team has 21 saves. The game is still 2-0 New Jersey.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Two for the road
03.17.2009 / 8:05 p.m.

Things started better than the Devils could imagine in the second period. No, they didn't score; but they were gifted a power-play opposrtunity just 13 seconds in when Troy Brouwer tripped Paul Martin as he circled behind Brodeur.

New Jersey had 4 shots on the man advantage, part of which Nikolai Khabibulin played without a goalie stick. Patrick Elias, who needs one point to become New Jersey's all-time leading scorer with 702 points, was stoned on two great opportunities.

Oh my, Marty just made a nice save, one of his toughest of the game. Jonathan Toews got off an in-tight shot despite having a defenseman draped all over him, but Brodeur was there with an answer. He has now stopped 16 shots in game's first 24 minutes.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Dad in the house
03.17.2009 / 7:49 p.m.

A couple of us here in the press box have been searching for Denis Brodeur, Sr. and we have found him through the use of some friendly binoculars.

Denis is taking photos from his suite one level up from the Zamboni doors. I also could spot Denis Jr. as well as good pal Guy Martin. I also believe Claude Brodeur, the eldest of the Brodeur children at 50 years old, is in there as well I think along with a few other folks. I do not see either of Martin's two sisters and, of course, his mother is not here because she is claustrophobic and never comes to his games.

In fact, according to Denis Jr., she hasn't seen a game live since he played junior hockey.

--Dan Rosen

One is done
03.17.2009 / 7:47 p.m.
 
Well, Marty Brodeur is one-third of the way to immortality.

We've reached the first intermission and it is 2-0 for Brodeur's Devils. Brodeur has been called on to make 14 saves and has looked good in doing it. He has shown little of the nerves that could have been a problem.

The Devils have fired 10 shots on Nikolai Khabibulin, scoring twice. The hawks struggled early in the game, reeling from Jamie Langenbrunner's first-minute goal. But, they seem to have found their legs and came on strong in the late portion of the first period.

We'll be back with more from the second period in a few minutes.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Hurricane warning
03.17.2009 / 7:43 p.m.

Carolina Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice will be watching with interest how the New Jersey Devils fair against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

The reason is simple -- if Devils goalie Martin Brodeur fails to win an NHL record 552nd NHL game against the Hawks, there's a chance he may be the center of attention in Raleigh on Wednesday.

While Devils coach Brent Sutter didn't reveal his Wednesday starter at his morning press conference on Tuesday, the consensus within the media room is backup Kevin Weekes would get the nod. If that happens, Brodeur would earn another shot at setting the mark on Friday against his former coach, Jacques Lemaire, and the Minnesota Wild.

"Well, we'll be cheering for Marty on Tuesday but we know no matter who is in net on Wednesday, it's going to be a battle," Maurice told reporters after Carolina's morning skate on Tuesday. "This record he's about to set is impressive; it's a statement clearly of not only his greatness, but the strength of that franchise in how good and consistent they can be. They've weathered injuries and players lost via free agency. But, through it all, Marty's been the one name that's been their consistently. He's a fantastic athlete.

"To think, when Scott Clemmensen and Weekes were in there, they predicted the demise of the Devils, but that team has only gotten better," Maurice continued. "We know that if it's Kevin Weekes, he's played some fine games of hockey when he has been in there. I don't think it's ever an easy night when you play the New Jersey Devils no matter who's in goal."

-- Mike G. Morreale 

Holding strong
03.17.2009 / 7:36 p.m.

Brodeur has made four saves in the past 4:30, but none have been overly challenging.

He faces a challenge now though as Bobby Holik just took a roughing penalty, causing a ruckus by flattening Jonathon Toews right at a whistle for offsides.

Brian Campbell had a testing shot from the point in the first seconds and Chicago managed another shot late, but that was it. With three minutes left in first, still 2-0.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Blood in the water
03.17.2009 / 7:23 p.m.

Wow! That didn't take long.

The Devils clearly want Brodeur to Claim Patrick Roy's record Tuesday night. Six minutes into the game and it is 2-0 New Jersey. Needless to say, a vocal and emotional crowd is primed for history now, picking up the "marty, Marty, Marty chant after the second goal.

Once again, Zach Parise is the best player on the ice for Jersey. He set up the first goal, by Jamie Langenbrunner, with a sweet backhand pass from the goal-line corner.  Langenbrunner slammed it between Nikolai Khabibulin's legs on the Devils' first shot, just 38 seconds into the game.

Parise also was the main factor in the second goal. First, he drew a holding penalty on Duncan Keith with an aggressive cycle. Then, with just a second left in the power play, Parise made a sweet pass into the slot that Travis Zajac slammed home with just 6:01 gone in the period.

Brodeur, for his part, has six saves in the first nine minutes.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Old vs. new
03.17.2009 / 7:09 p.m.

Chicago right wing Kris Versteeg, who enters Tuesday's game having scored a goal in three straight games, has notched 4 goals and 5 points over his last five games.

The 22-year-old forward, who leads all NHL rookies with 29 assists and ranks third with 20 goals in 64 games, is looking forward to facing Devils goalie Martin Brodeur for the first time.

"I don't even know what to expect, it's a big night for (Brodeur) but, at the same time, we're coming in here wanting to win; it's two crucial points for us in the standings and we're excited about tonight's challenge and what lies ahead," Versteeg told NHL.com a few hours before opening faceoff."

Versteeg, whose plus-17 rating ranks second among the League's first-year performers, is confident the club can rebound. The Hawks, who sit fourth in the Western Conference but are 3-6-1 over their last 10 games, have seen the Vancouver Canucks move within two points of them in the Conference standings. Chicago's 83 points (37-21-9) is the franchise's most in 18 years through 67 games -- the 1990-91 club, which captured the President's Trophy, accrued 86 through the 67-contest mark (40-21-6).

"We've been through some slumps this season and have come out of them strong and our team fights and handles adversity well," Versteeg said. "We have a young team and I think we're dangerous because of that youth. For myself, getting a chance, no matter where I play on the ice, has really benefitted me this season. The team has showed a lot of confidence in my so I've been having a lot of fun with it. Really, it's just the fact I've been playing with a lot of confidence."

We'll see in a matter of minutes whether that confidence continues against a goalie on the verge of establishing an NHL record.

-- Mike G. Morreale

Doc's diagnosis
03.17.2009 / 6:49 p.m.

Broadcaster Mike 'Doc' Emrick, the lead play-by-play announcer for the NHL on VERSUS and the NHL on NBC, graciously took some time from his busy schedule to share a few moments with me in anticipation of tonight's contest.

Over the past two decades, Emrick has served as the voice of the Flyers in Philadelphia, Rangers in New York, and currently as the voice of the Devils in New Jersey. This year's winner of the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for outstanding contributions as a hockey broadcaster admitted one moment he'll never forget in the career of Martin Brodeur.

Emrick shared his tale in that same tone of voice that all hockey fans have become so accustomed.

"I had this all prepared and no one has asked me yet, but it was Nov. 6, 1996, Joe Louis Arena in Detroit," Emrick said. "He was on his way to his 13th shutout … 2-0 … third period … power play. Marty had to go out there to make a stop at the edge of the crease. The puck came through the middle of the ice … across the blue line … to (Sergei) Fedorov, who sent a rocket shot. Marty dove, parallel to the ice, outstretched his arm with his stick and he got his paddle on the shot. I don't know how he ever did it. That to me is the greatest save I ever saw him make."

Brodeur did earn a 2-0 shutout over the Red Wings that night.

In addition to the save, however, Emrick reflected on Brodeur, the person.

"I remember him staying late after practice the day of Game 7 in 2003 against the Anaheim Ducks; he had finished at 10:30," Emrick said. "When the French and English-speaking people came around, he moved to the center of the old locker room at (Continental Arena) to accommodate everyone. At around, 11:30 the (Anaheim) Ducks were coming down the hall and he's still in there at 12:15. Don't forget, he had been pulled from Game 6 but the next day it was like, 'That was gone and I'm the same guy I've always been so I'll answer your questions.' "

-- Mike G. Morreale

Warmups
03.17.2009 / 6:33 p.m.

OK, we're almost at gametime. The teams just hit the ice for warmups and Brodeur is stopping pucks in his crease as we speak. This guy is as intense in practice and warmups as he is during games. In fact, he may even be more intense during practices and warmups.

At least, that's what most of his teammates say.

We've been told the Hawks are going with Nikolai Khabibulin tonight, and that's not a good sign for the Devils.

Brodeur is only 2-6-3 against Khabibulin in his career. It's by far his worst winning percentage against an opposing goalie he's played more than twice. The only goalies that have beaten him more than Khabibulin are Olaf Kolzig, Mike Richter, Patrick Lalime, Rick DiPietro, Dominik Hasek, Ed Belfour, Henrik Lundqvist and Curtis Joseph.

Brodeur is 6-10-3 vs. Belfour. Damian Rhodes, Arturs Irbe, Ron Hextall and Garth Snow have all beaten Brodeur six times each.

Anyway, we'll try to keep up with this blog throughout the game. You've got three bloggers here in myself, Roarke and Morreale.

More later...

--Dan Rosen

Game plan against Brodeur
03.17.2009 / 6:15 p.m.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Chicago's winless stretch against the Devils is the longest active by one NHL club against another. That doesn't bode well for the visitors this evening.

The last time the Blackhawks celebrated a victory against New Jersey was Oct. 10, 1998. The last time it won in New Jersey was Dec. 30, 1997.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is hoping his team will rise to the challenge at Prudential Center in Newark where Devils goalie Martin Brodeur looks to make history.

"That's part of our focus," Quenneville told the media during his pre-game availability. "We want to spoil a party tonight and his is a special career that's in place. He's done everything right for the game and for the franchise here in Jersey, so we know they're going to be excited and it's going to be a well-attended game. They'll be a lot of scrutiny over tonight's game and I just think we have to focus on what we need to do and tighten up a lot of areas."

Quenneville knows his club will have little to no chance if they don't put traffic in front of Brodeur.

"We're getting a lot of shots but missing the net a lot lately," he said. "We've also had a lot of shots blocked. Still, we need more traffic at the net. If Marty sees the shot, we'll be in trouble; we need traffic in front to enhance the shot."

-- Mike G. Morreale

Still no clues
03.17.2009 / 5:07 PM

New Jersey Devils coach Brent Sutter refuses to deviate from his preference of playing his cards close to the vest.

While most outsiders are speculating that backup goalie Kevin Weekes will get the start in Wednesday's game in Carolina -- no matter if Brodeur wins or loses Tuesday night -- Sutter refuses to give official credence to that line of thought.

"I've got an idea of what I am doing tomorrow, I'm just not telling you guys," Sutter said Tuesday morning. "I guess that might be an ignorant comment, but we're staying the course on how we are going about our business here. Nothing has changed as far as how we have done business here.

"Before Marty was injured, right through the process when Marty was injured, how 'Clemmer' (Scott Clemmensen) and 'Weeksie' played and how we managed both those guys with Marty coming back and how we are managing Marty; it hasn't changed. We're staying the course and along the way, as we have stayed the course, something tremendous here is happening and we are not going to get off that."

Sutter may announce his starter for Wednesday after Tuesday night's result, but it is more likely that the announcement will not come until Wednesday morning at the earliest.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Passing on the praise
03.17.2009 / 4:33 PM

Yes, Marty's record for wins an individual honor. He alone will have his name atop the list when he wins No. 552, whenever that may be.

But, in many ways, the win record is a team award, as well. Most nights, it takes a majority of the 20 guys on the roster to be going good to earn a victory. Some nights, it takes all 20 players.

Brent Sutter talked a little about the team angle this morning and it has become clear in the past four days that many of Marty's teammates are as excited as Brodeur to see Patrick Roy's mark fall.

"No. 1, there are guys in that room that have played with Marty for a long time and have been part of the success this team has had," Sutter said Tuesday morning. "I think that is first and foremost.

"The players feel there is no question they are very excited to see this happen; but, at the same time, they feel unique that they are being part of it and helping Marty because they are a team and the team comes first and they are helping him set this record and make history. It makes them proud, too, and rightly so and it should because to me everyone has done an outstanding job and I'm proud of every one of them."

Patrik Elias talked about that dynamic after Monday morning's practice. His own quest to become the Devils all-time leader in points scored -- he is currently tied with John MacLean at 702 -- has been gobbled up by all the attention Brodeur has received. Yet, Elias was quick to say he was happy for Brodeur and note that no Devils has been on the ice for more Brodeur wins.

Elias has been on the ice for 398 of Brodeur's win. Sergei Brylin, who left the team to return to Russia is second with 387. Of current teammates, Jay Pandolfo is next with 362, sitting behind Scott Niedermayer, now in Anaheim, and the retired Scott Stevens.

The NHL Communications Department put out a comprehensive list of every player that ever played in a Martin Brodeur victory. For me, who started covering Brodeur on a fulltime basis in the 1993-94 season, it was quite the trip down memory lane.

Here are some of the names, or numbers, that stand out on that list.

John Madden -- 343. He sits sixth on the list, two spots and 38 games ahead of Kenny Daneyko. I thought Dano would be near the top of the list.

Tommy Albelin -- 145. I thought this number would be hire, forgetting Abby's hiatus in Calgary. He still ranks ahead of Johnny MacLean and Bill Guerin, who sit at 127 apiece.

Denis Pederson -- 135. Pederson, a first-round pick, was one of my favorite players from the mid-90s Devils. I'm not sure why, but I just associated with him. With that said, I was shocked he even played in 135 games with New Jersey. Believe it or not, it was 271 games with New Jersey. Pederson, 33, is a point-per-game player now in the German league.

Krzysztof Oliwa -- 105. Wow. Again, I wasn't even sure Oliwa played that many games with the Devils. Let's put it this way, he was involved in 25 more regular-season wins than Claude Lemieux, one of the franchise's most-famous alumni.

Stephane Richer -- 82. Nobody celebrated those 82 wins better than Richer

Brad Bombadir -- 67. Bomber was another personal favorite. He has more Marty wins than Jersey's own Jim Dowd, who has Just 60.

Tom Chorske -- 45. I thought Chorske was around so much longer.

Slava Fetisov and Bernie Nicholls -- 21. Have two players ever been more famous for just 21 wins? Each left an indelible mark on Devil history.

David Emma -- 10. The top and only Rhode Island skater (Chris Terreri was a goalie) on the list.

Rob Skrlac -- 4. His debut was one of the great stories of my journalism career to date.

Nik Bergfors -- 1. He was supposed to be past 50 by now.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Looking for an edge
03.17.2009 / 4:15 PM

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville spoke to local reporters following the team's morning skate on Monday. He knows the stiff challenge that faces his young team, which has lost two straight in regulation and four of their last five (1-4-0). Keep in mind, the Hawks have not dropped more than two consecutive games in regulation all season.

"It's an amazing career (Brodeur) has had," Quenneville told the Chicago Tribune. "You have to commend him. The number of wins he gets per season is unmatched. He anticipates, he has concentration and he handles the puck. He's a special player."

"Inevitably, (the record) is going to happen," he continued. "We'd like to postpone it. Everybody's going to be excited and we've got to do all we can to make it not much fun."
The Devils are not only 7-1 since Brodeur's return following surgery to repair a torn tendon in his left biceps, but are 16-5 since the All-Star break. Yes, fans, that's tops in the League.

Patrick Kane, who leads the Blackhawks with 61 points (23 goals) this season, is looking forward to his first meeting against Brodeur. The Blackhawks dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Devils the last time the teams hooked up on Nov. 9, 2006. Kane was drafted by the Hawks in June 2007 and earned the Calder Trophy as the NHL's rookie of the year last season.

"He's a great goaltender, obviously, and it'll be fun for some of us guys to go out and shoot against him," Kane told the Daily Herald Times. "He's probably got the smallest equipment in the league and it looks like there's a lot of area open, but he seems to save everything. It could be a historic night, but hopefully we keep him from having that glory. We can't worry about him. We've got to worry about our team."

--Mike G. Morreale

Success vs. Marty
03.17.2009 / 4:08 PM

Of the six players on the Chicago Blackhawks who have registered at least one goal against Martin Brodeur in his 16 years in the League, it appears as if defenseman Brian Campbell and left wing Ben Eager are the only healthy players suiting up against New Jersey on Tuesday night.

Campbell and right wing Martin Havlat, who has been sidelined with a lower body injury, lead the Blackhawks with 17 career games against Brodeur. Havlat's 4 goals and 12 points are the most by anyone on the Chicago roster. Campbell (1 goal), Eager (1), Sammy Pahlsson (1), Patrick Sharp (1) and Brent Sopel (2) have also notched goals against Brodeur.

-- Mike G. Morreale

We're back!
03.17.2009 / 3:25 PM

Took a quick break for lunch just a little while ago -- corned beef for me and Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record, it should be noted and I won't even talk about the non-Irish offerings are lunch peers ordered -- but now we are back at the Prudential Center, counting the minutes until the game starts.

We'll have plenty more blog entries between now and when the puck drops shortly after 7 p.m., and then we'll have all the action from the game.

It's a beautiful spring day here in Newark. Temperatures are likely in the high 50s and there was no need for anything stronger than a sport coat on the three-block walk to Scully's for lunch. On the way back, right around 3 p.m., we saw close to 100 fans waiting outside the box office, hoping to snatch up the $10 day-of-game tickets put on sale before every home game.

It was cool to see that level of excitement and passion and just further stoked the fires for what hopefully will be a historic night.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Memories of greatness
03.17.2009 / 1:40 PM

Prior to the game, I was able to shoot over to the Devils locker room and retrieve some comments from those New Jersey players just finishing up their morning skate.

As you might expect, Martin Brodeur's teammates were excited and looking forward to playing before their home fans with the hope of establishing history.

Here's what a few had to say:

Zach Parise

"There's one save in particular that will always stand out for me. It was in Philadelphia (on April 5, 2007) when he set the record for victories in a season (48). I think we were winning at the time and I remember, in the third period, Danny Briere had a wide open net following a rebound. I don't know if Marty caught it with his shaft or jumped across, but it was the most unbelievable save that I've ever seen. I'm sure he has a lot of memories, but that's the one that I can remember the most."

David Clarkson

"There are so many things he's done and you can go over those saves where he dives behind himself to stop the puck. But, at the same time, off the ice, he's just as special to me and everybody in this room as he is on the ice. That's what makes him as good as he is out there in my opinion. I'd have to say making those saves where he's turned around and caught a puck when it was a wide open net. That's when I say to myself, "How did he do that?" I think the way he treats you off the ice is really what makes guys have the respect they do."

Jay Pandolfo

"There's not one particular moment. The joy for me, since the first day I got here, is just competing against him in practice. Just going against him in practice and knowing how much he competes no matter what's going on, even if it's a warm up drill. He never wants to get scored upon. I think that's what has brought him to where he's at; his competitiveness."

Andy Greene

"It's just good to see how he comes to work every day with a smile on his face. He wants to have fun and work hard and it's kind of refreshing to know he comes ready and prepared every day. Here's a guy who's been doing it for so long and you still see that smile on his face and how mush he enjoys doing it. It's kind of neat to see that in a guy who's been in this League for so long."

-- Mike G. Morreale

Straight from the source
03.17.2009 / 1:40 PM

We've done a great job of covering things here from the Prudential Center on Tuesday morning, but sometimes it is illuminating to hear what the participants have to say without being run through a journalistic filter.

So, we have provided that opportunity withy podcasts of both Martin Brodeur's press availability Tuesday morning, as well as that of coach Brent Sutter.

We hope you enjoy both press conferences and we'll try to get more audio from the pOst-game festivities.

--Shawn P. Roarke

Could you imagine?
03.17.2009 / 1 PM

Martin Brodeur has always tried at all costs to avoid going down into a butterfly. Yes, sometimes it becomes a necessity to go down, split his pads and let the puck hit him, but he doesn't like it too much.

In fact, he hated the butterfly so much that, according to his father, Denis Brodeur, Sr., he asked out of Francois Allaire's goaltending school after one day. Allaire is the guru who coached Patrick Roy, who popularized the butterfly for generations of goalies, except for Brodeur.

I bring this up because I found it to be quite interesting that when Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record asked Brodeur if his two boys that play the position, Anthony and Jeremy, are butterfly goalies, he amazingly said, to a degree, yes they are.

"My sons, yeah, they are more butterfly than me, that's for sure, but they are fun to watch," Brodeur said. "They are definitely active little goalies in there. They do pokechecks and they roam around their net a little bit. It's pretty cool to see little young Martys out there."

Brodeur, though, doesn't teach them or anyone else the tactics of the butterfly even though it's way easier to learn than his style. Instead, when he holds a goalie school, which he does every summer here in Jersey, or gets on the ice with his kids, he talks about the fundamentals of playing the position rather than style.

"It's about reacting, your positioning, your stick on the ice, doing different things," Brodeur said. "It's not really how I stop the puck; it's how I get myself to make the save that is important to me.

"Controlling your rebounds is something I really care about because if I control my rebounds I feel I'm able to cut down eight to 10 shots a game and that's a reason, if you look at the shots against in New Jersey compared to other places, there is a difference. It's hard to teach kids that (my style) is the way you should play. When you fall on your knees and put your pads apart, it's a lot easier to teach to somebody, that's for sure."

Brodeur said he never took to the butterfly because he found it to be "kind of boring" because it was too repetitive.
 
"I just like to compete," he said. "I wanted to make sure it was a challenge for a shooter to shoot on me."

However, just because a goalie was a butterfly goalie like Roy doesn't mean Brodeur didn't watch or admire him. He tried to learn from him and anyone else, especially Ron Hextall.

"It didn't matter what kind of goalie you were, if it was something that you were doing that I could put into my own game I would do it, and not just because he was a top goalie or a successful goalie," Brodeur said. "Sometimes I just thought something was pretty neat about a certain guy and it was like, 'Let's try it,' you know."

- Dan Rosen

Less pressure? Maybe
03.17.2009 / 12:40 PM

Martin Brodeur held a 16-minute press conference this morning in front of a plethora of scribes and television reporters, some of which are making either their first or second appearance ever at the Prudential Center.

Hey, this is a big deal and the Devils don't get a ton of pub around these parts.

Considering the immense weight he felt this past Saturday in Montreal when he was trying to tie Patrick Roy's record of 551 wins with St. Patrick in the building, one would have to assume the tension Brodeur is feeling leading up to tonight's game is significantly less.

Don't assume anything.

Brodeur is anxious. He is a bit nervous, if you consider how he feels before games nervous.

"People expect me to do it and I don't want to disappoint anybody," Brodeur said. "I'd like to get it over with and do it. It's not one thing you'd like to drag on for too long, but again it's a hockey game that I need to play and I need to get myself focused. There are a lot of distractions that come with breaking a record so definitely it is nerve wracking to an extent. I'm anxious about the game and I can't wait to get on that plane to go to Carolina later tonight."

- Dan Rosen


Welcome back
03.17.2009 / 10 AM

We're in the building

As I start writing this blog we're 10 minutes away from the clock striking 10 o'clock in the morning here in Newark, NJ, which means we're 25 minutes away from Martin Brodeur's morning press conference, the first sign of how unusual this day will be in Devilland.

First off, Brodeur never holds a morning press conference, nobody in the Devils organization ever does during the regular season unless something of this magnitude comes up. And, considering we have not seen anything of this magnitude here, this is the rarest of rarities.

Secondly, the amount of media covering a morning skate will be at least tripled. Already ESPN.com is here and two of us from NHL.com, not to mention the beat writers from the New York Post and the Newark Star-Ledger as well as a columnist from the New York Daily News.

So, yeah, this is different. As Bobby Holik told my esteemed colleague Shawn P. Roarke yesterday (I had the day off, which was really nice), this kind of feels like the playoffs. Actually, since John Dellapina from the NHL PR department is here, perhaps it even has a Conference Final feel to it, just with less media.

I have just been informed that the Blackhawks, tonight's opponent, canceled their morning skate. I kind of had a feeling that they did because I didn't receive an email from their PR department about them holding one here, and I normally receive all of their practice and morning skate updates. And, since the Devils only hold optional skates, this morning is pretty much Marty, Marty, Marty and more Marty.

Hey, isn't that what it should be today.

Well, it's about time to take my seat in the press conference area. Keep hitting refresh here because we'll constantly be updating this blog. Myself, Shawn and Mike Morreale will be here all day and Phil Coffey is joining us tonight.

More later...

- Dan Rosen

Signing off!
03.16.2009 / 6:05 PM

Well, we're going to call it a night.

Martin Brodeur isn't the only one that needs his rest for the big day. I'll need some shut eye to be at my best tomorrow as well for what will be a long, but fun, day at the Prudential Center.

Myself, Dan Rosen and Mike Morreale will all be at Tuesday's morning skates, filing stories and updating the blog. We'll be joined at the game by Phil Coffey, who will write a running recap of the game as it happens.

So, to say that NHL.com will have the Brodeur watch covered would be an understatement.

Also, if you want to watch the game and you live in the United States, I have some good news for you. The NHL Network, U.S. only, is picking up the broadcast of Tuesday's game.

We'll be back at you bright and early tomorrow. Until then, have a good night.

--Shawn P. Roarke

What if he loses?
03.16.2009 / 5:53 PM

If Martin Brodeur loses to Chicago on Tuesday night, will he play Wednesday night in Carolina?

Devils' coach Brent Sutter wasn't going to show his cards any earlier than he has to, but he did give off a few clues to the media that waited around to speak to him. And, unless he is bluffing, it appears Kevin Weekes could get the start in Carolina, win or lose for Marty on Tuesday night.

"Is it a possibility that Weeksie could be playing in Carolina? Yeah, it's a possiblity," Sutter said. "Yet, I can't answer that right now because I want to get through this next game and see how it all unfolds."

For the Devils, the game against Chicago kicks off a trying stretch that will see the club play five games in seven nights. Wednesday, it is Carolina, followed by a home game Friday against Minnesota and then road games against Boston and Philadelphia.

"I just think it's important for us to continue to stay the course with what we've been doing," Sutter said. "Let's worry about tomorrow night and a decision will be made after the game or the next morning on who is going to play in Raleigh. I just don't want to get too far ahead. I do know the schedule. I do know what's coming up. I'm aware of everything. Yet, first and foremost it's what's best for the team and the best situation."

--Shawn P. Roarke

Special company
03.16.2009 / 5:36 PM

New Jersey forward Bobby Holik always has an interesting take on things. Monday afternoon, he was putting Martin Brodeur in the same company as perhaps the greatest sporting legend currently occupying the New York metropolitan area stage at the moment: Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter.

I asked Bobby if he knew that Brodeur would be a record-breaking goalie when Brodeur first came up in 1993.

"Not this special," Holik said. "You knew he was going to be good over the years, but not this special. It takes a long time to get this special.

"You know, I was just talking with Alex (Abasto), one of the trainers, and he is a huge Yankee fan and, you know, you had Nomar (Garciaparra) and you got Arod (Alex Rodriguez) and you got Jeter and they all came in around the same time as shortstops. But, only Jeter is the special one because he lasted that long at this level -- you know, same team, success.

"You know, there's other great goalies; but they come in and out -- three, four years, five, seven or eight years, not 15 or 18. You know what I mean? On top of their ability to do it night in night out, the ability to sustain it for close to two decades, that is greatness itself. There are a lot of great goalies, but very few could do it this long."

Part of Brodeur's success, says Holik, is his acceptance of the New Jersey orgaization's mindset that losing is never acceptable.

"That's one of the reasons for the consistency or longevity, because you are never satisfied here," Holik said. "I was asked when we lost to Isles last weekend and they said it's only your fifth loss in 20-something games and I said, 'It's a loss against a team that we shouldn't have lost or, if we are going to lose, it's going to be when we are battling or playing well.

"Losing is a big deal here. Complacency is a hockey player's worst enemy and it is never around here. I don't think Marty is ever happy with where he is at with his career and that helps the longevity part."

Whatever the reason for Brodeur's success, veteran forward Brian Rolston remains amazed at what he has done, even though the hints of greatness were visible from early on in Brodeur's career.

"Right away, he was in the playoffs at a young age, standing on his head, winning series by himself almost, so you could see it coming," Rolston said. "Obviously, to be consistent it's an amazing feat and he's arguably, the best goalie to ever play."

A star is born
03.16.2009 / 5:22 PM

The honors never seem to stop for Martin Brodeur. Although it can't rival the majesty of win No. 551 in Montreal on Saturday night, Brodeur earned another honor Monday night, being named the NHL's First Star of the Week.

Calgary's Olli Jokinen and Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby were the week's other two stars.

--Shawn P, Roarke

Big Day at The Rock
03.16.2009 / 5:15 PM

Needless to say, Monday was not a typical practice day for the Devils.

Usually, the team has only a few media people at its practices -- the beat writers, the radio broadcasters and the TV broadcasters. Monday, that presence was at least doubled, if not tripled.

Yours truly was there, making only his fourth or fifth practice visit of the season. ESPN.com was on hand, RDS was there, Sports Illustrated too. Many of the local papers had columnists, as well. Associated Press was also there.

And, everyone was there to report on Martin Brodeur's chase for win No. 552.

"We never get this much media unless we are deep in the playoffs," Bobby Holik said as he sat in his stall, soaking up the attention.

And, make no mistake, Monday felt like an off day during the Stanley Cup Playoffs with all the attention being paid to Brodeur.

And, not surprisingly, Brodeur took it all in stride. After all, he has plenty of experience with playoff atmospheres, right?

Here is some of what Brodeur said Monday morning that did not make my story.

On whether or not he has a number of wins he would like to reach before retiring?:
Six hundred is the roundest number after (the record) and it would be nice to get to that. That's another 40-something games away, so that's not going to be till next year, hopefully.

And, how long does Brodeur plan on playing?:
I've got three years remaining on my contract and I want to honor it if I can -- as far as my health and me wanting to play. I think a lot of stuff was put in perspective for me this year with my injury and I missed what I love to do most and I realized I still want to play a lot.


Is winning all the games with New Jersey make the record more special?:
It's hard, (look at) the players that have done it -- Joe Sakic, even though  it was two different cities, till same organization; and Steve Yzerman; and here, look at Kenny Daneyko. It's that sense of pride of being on one team and making that commitment to the people in the organization and the fans that you want to stay here and you love where you are at. For me, it was never a secret about that. I loved being in New Jersey; I loved being a part of this. The success of the organization became my success at the same time.

On leaving New Jersey and going to another team during his career:
You always wonder, it's just human nature. You see other people and other organizations and how they operate. But, I think when you have something good, the grass is not greener necessarily on the other side all the time and I felt my grass was green enough to play here. It was a combination of a lot of things as to why I made these decisions and I have zero regret. A lot of good things are happening to us and hopefully we will have success in the future, as well. You always think about these things, though. I dreamt of playing for the Canadiens when I was a kid, so … This is where people gave me my first shot at playing in the NHL and hopefully I'll retire here as well.

Can he enjoy, in the moment, what he has accopmplished?:
I don't get caught up in it because I have a lot more left to do than just winning that next game. I'm looking forward to doing other things. But, I think you sit back and you enjoy and you have to take it all in about what you just accomplished or are about to accomplish. I think that is part of doing great things; to be able to live it also, not just let it go by you. You don't want to regret and say, 'Oh, maybe I should have enjoyed more that moment.' I'm, definitely enjoying every second of it.

What will 552 mean to him?:
Just to put myself in a class of my own for now. When people are looking at stats, right now there are two names at 551. There will be one name at 552 when I get there eventually, hopefully. So, that's the bottom line. After that, it's just 553 and, like I said earlier, we'll just try to raise the bar. It means a lot. You're one game away and it's a fun ride for me. The last few weeks have been great and hopefully we'll get it over with so you guys can go on and have other stories.

That was the gist of Marty's press availability Monday. He will be available again Tuesday morning at around 10:15 a.m. at the Prudential Center. As has been the case throughout this chase, NHL.com will be on hand to document the latest.

I'll be back with some more thoughts and quotes in the next few minutes, but wanted to let you start chewing on the observations from the man of the moment.

--Shawn P. Roarke


SUNDAY, MARCH 15

A night to cherish
03.15.2009 / 1 AM

Seriously, if you can believe it, I have a wakeup call in three hours. My flight home is at 6:35 a.m. so I have a 4 a.m. wakeup call. How ridiculous is that?

Anyway, my stories should be posted up on the site now, but so you get the full coverage, here are some quotes that went unused. I'm off to bed for a solid two and a half hours:

MARTIN BRODEUR

On if he caught eye-contact with his dad during the game: "He was not looking at me. I tried to look at him. He was too nervous."

On what made Roy special: "I don't know how people feel about me when I play against them, but I know how my players felt when we played against him. You know, they were leading already 1-0 before the game started. That is something I have worked at a lot, to be consistent year in and year out, and that's why with Patrick it was so hard to achieve this accomplishment today. He pushed that envelope to be the best every single time he was out there. For me, he was a great role model to look at and to mimic what he accomplished, definitely I'm happy to get to that level."

On if it is extra special that his dad, Denis Sr., was in the building to witness history: "When you play in the NHL you're living a dream, it's something that is pretty cool to do. To win Stanley Cups and to do what I did today, all these things are great, but one thing for me that is important is to have as many people enjoying what I'm doing at the same time because I know they would kill to be in the position that I am. For me, to see my dad enjoying this moment in a place he worked for so long ... it's definitely nice.

On how he handled his nerves: "I think the attitude of the players, they didn't make this as a big deal compared to what I had to do, go and talk to you guys and the family, everybody was excited. My teammates hardly talked to me about it and that helped me going through this thing."

PATRICK ROY

On Brodeur continuing to play more years: "He's a machine, I can tell you that. The scary part of it is I'm sure he has maybe three, four or five more good years in front of him. The difference between both of us is I think he has a better approach to the game than I had. At 37 I was thinking retiring and I don't think Marty thinks that way. He still wants to play many more years. When I was talking to him this morning he mentioned to me missing those 50 games reminded him that he was missing the game a lot. Sometimes bad things happen in your career, but I think for good reason. Unfortunately that was bad luck, but he used it in a fashion that reminds him that he loves this game and he was extremely happy to come back."

On where he thinks this record ranks in the annals of hockey history: "Every record is special to me. I was proud when it happened to me and I'm sure Marty is very proud. I don't know where it places in the history of the game, but if you look at goaltending it's something great. It goes with the team. You have to win hockey games and if you do the team is winning hockey games. To be part of that as a player makes it very special and I think Marty should be extremely proud of being able to help his teammates. That's the way I felt at the time."

BRENT SUTTER

On Brodeur's performance: "He made some big saves. We never give up a lot of scoring chances, but the ones that were there Marty made some big saves on and the goal he gave up was a delfection off a stick. It was a great, great team win when you get 48 shots on net and you only give up 23 and you triple the scoring chances for and against. It was a very good effort by everybody."

On if Jamie Langenbrunner's goal with 7:03 left eased the pressure: "It's funny, I thought we were very composed on the bench. We were in control. We were playing well. Our puck management was really good. We weren't giving up much at all in the third period. We gave them one quality scoring chance in the slot, but it was already 3-1 at the time. I wasn't too concerned. I thought we were very composed in how we were playing and doing things."

On if he got chills at the end: "Oh yeah. It was exciting. You can see the excitement in the guys and obvioulsy the excitement in Marty. It couldn't have happened in a better place. It's his hometown obviously and he gets a standing ovation at the end of the game and a standing ovation when he was named first star. It's unbelievable how it has unfolded to know and yet that tells you something about Marty and it tells you something about the history of the game, too, and how special it is."

On if he thought Brodeur was nervous before the game: "Marty doesn't really show it. I'm sure inside it was going pretty good, but he doesn't really show too much on the outside. I'm sure he was very excited for the game to get started. You never know what the outcome is going to be, but you want your team to play well and obviously Marty wanted to play well. Obviously both those things happened and when you get both of those things to happen you usually have success."

On what he said to Brodeur after the game: "I just congratulated him and told him I was proud of him. It's just a tremendous, tremendous honor. I'm proud of the organization. It's a tremendous honor for the organization, too. It tells you that they've done a lot of things right."

A night to cherish
03.15.2009 / 12:25 AM

It's not over yet. Martin Brodeur still has one win to go before officially becoming the all-time wins leader in NHL history.

However, tonight will forever be a night Brodeur cherishes.

I mean, it's almost too good to be true, kind of like one of those scripts that a big Hollywood producer would turn down for fear that nobody would believe it.

Seriously, he ties a revered record held by a guy he grew up idolizing? He ties the record in a building located only 20 minutes away from the bed he grew up sleeping in, the kitchen he grew up eating in, the street and arena he grew up playing in? He ties this unbelievable record with his father, a 78-year-old retired photographer, snapping pictures only a few feet away from him on the other side of the glass?

Forget it. The script has no chance of being sold.

Then again, this isn't a script. It's real life, and Brodeur breathed it all in Saturday night, especially when the crowd stood up and gave him separate roaring ovations, the first moments after the final buzzer sounded and the second after he was announced as the game's first star.

For me, though, the highlight of the night was seeing Patrick Roy and Brodeur together in the same press conference room. Roy spoke to the attending media first and Brodeur followed him with Roy standing by the door, hanging on every word.

When they were done, Brodeur and Roy shook hands in a photo-op for the ages.

It was just a special, special moment, one I'll never forget either.

SATURDAY, MARCH 14

FINAL: St. Patrick has company
03.14.2009 / 9:40 PM

He did it.

Win No. 551 is in the books for Martin Brodeur.

The Devils got a late goal from Jamie Langenbrunner and doubled up the Canadiens in shots on goal for a 3-1 victory. Brodeur stopped 22 of 23 shots and is now one win away from being alone at the top of the all-time wins list.

He can win No. 552 Tuesday night at home in the Prudential Center against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Canadiens had some nice chances on a power play early in the period, but couldn't put the equalizer past Brodeur.

If it weren't for a brilliant pokecheck by Brisebois to thwart a 2-on-1 with Zajac and Zach Parise, the Devils could have extended the lead to two goals at the 6-minute mark of the period.

Brodeur made, well, Brodeur-esque back to back saves on Christopher Higgins and Kostitsyn before freezing the puck at 8:30.

With 7:03 remaining in the game, Jamie Langenbrunner scored the insurance goal Brodeur and the Devils so desperately needed to make this night the magical, historic one it was supposed to be.

Travis Zajac did yeoman's work with the puck to get Langenbrunner loose for a shot from just inside the left circle. Zajac curled around the goal with the puck on his backhand and fired wide, but he chased his own shot and now with the puck on his forehand found Langenbrunner alone with a short, crisp tape-to-tape pass.

Langenbrunner fired a great shot that beat Halak on the glove side. He danced a little bit after scoring, not a wild celebration but still enough to show some relief. Not only did it give the Devils some breathing room for the final seven minutes, but it all but assured Brodeur win No. 551.

I'm heading down to the press conference room now. More later...

End 2nd, Devils still lead 2-1
03.14.2009 / 8:50 PM

So, Brodeur has 20 minutes left and a one-goal lead. He's that close to tying Patrick Roy's all-time record of 551 wins.

Roy is here and if the Devils hang on to win this game he will hold a press conference later tonight after Bob Gainey and Brodeur address the media. If the Habs come back, Roy will not be talking to the media. Why would he?

This was a little bit of a better period for the Habs and Halak, but Brodeur stood tall and kept the Devils ahead, 1-0 and New Jersey still outshot Montreal, 18-11. At least the Canadiens committed only one penalty as opposed to the five they committed in the first period.

Brodeur made a tough save on a brilliant redirection from in front of the net by Mathieu Dandenault at 5:34. It was the first shot he faced in the second period.

He made wonderful back-to-back stops on Maxim Lapierre two seconds apart at 7:18 and 7:20. First, Lapierre skated in untouched and got the puck on net, but Brodeur watched his stick the entire way and made the save. He made it back across the crease in time to stop Lapierre's second attempt from parallel to the right post.

At roughly the 10 minute mark, Plekanec won a faceoff to Brodeur's left right back to Matt D'Agostini, who fired a 30-foot wrister that Brodeur brushed aside as if it was nothing.

He looked calm in stopping Kostitsyn, who drove hard and fast around Bryce Salvador at the 12-minute mark. The net came dislodged on the play as Salvador was flung into it.

Brodeur also made solid back-to-back stops on Kostitsyn and Mathieu Schneider about 30 seconds later. He made one more good one, but easy one, on D'Agostini with two minutes left.

End 1st: Devils 2, Habs 1
03.14.2009 / 8 PM

Brodeur made his first save 2:41 into the game on Roman Hamrlik's harmless shot from halfboards.

The Devils struck for their first of two power-play goals in the period with two seconds remaining on what was only a 7-second 5-on-3 advantage. Patrik Elias ripped a slap shot from the point to beat Habs goalie Jaroslav Halak at 5:27. Travis Zajac won the draw and got the puck back along the left wing boards. He dropped the puck back to Elias, who took a few strides in before firing. At this point the Devils held a 6-1 advantage in shots. By the way, the goal was Elias' 700th point of his career, putting him one short of tying John MacLean's franchise record.

Brodeur made a good sliding across-the-crease save on Andrei Kostitsyn at 7:30. He also made a nice stop on a semi-break by Matt D'Agostini at 8:40.

The Devils made it 2-0 and Elias recorded his 701st point at 11:08 as Brian Rolston beat Halak. It was a bad goal for Halak to give up. Rolston initially tried to shoot the puck in on a rush, but it hit Mike Komisarek. The puck bounced right back to Rolston, who fired it again. This time, the puck went screaming over Halak's left shoulder. He should have probably had it, but then again, I'm up in the press box and he's down in the action, so who am I to talk.

It didn't take long for Montreal to get the goal back. Tomas Plekanec scored with a screaming wrister from inside the right circle at 12:29. The shot beat Brodeur on the blocker side. It was only the fifth shot of the game for the Habs, who finished the first period with seven.

The Devils went on the power play again - their fourth of five in the period - when Alex Tanguay was called for goalie interference at 17:35. He basically skated right into Brodeur, who was a step out of the crease. Still, that's a penalty folks. Brodeur was trying to play the puck and Tanguay got in the way.

New Jersey will start the second period on the power play as Andrei Markov went off with 14 seconds left for delay of game.

Bet you didn't know
03.14.2009 / 6:55 PM

The teams just left the ice after warmups. Granted, I am sitting up high in the press box, but Brodeur looked pretty focused. As if we expected anything less from the guy.

Quick stat: Brodeur is 34-15-5 with a 1.80 GAA  and 8 shutouts in his career against Montreal.

I haven't seen Patrick Roy yet, but I'm told he is here. I also heard that Brodeur plans to use multiple sticks tonight so if he does tie the record there will be lots of memorabilia. I won't be able to confirm that until after the game, though.

Brodeur collects of all of his hockey memorabilia, including sticks and pucks. In fact, he has every piece that means a lot to him except for one key thing.

He is missing the stick he used to backstop Canada in the gold medal game at the 2002 Olympics. According to Denis Jr., as part of the wild celebration after the Canadians topped the Americans, 5-2, to win the gold, Brodeur threw his stick in the air. The trainers supposedly collected all of the items on the ice and gave them back to their rightful owners, but after getting home Brodeur realized he was missing a key ingredient to Canada's first gold medal in 50 years.

His sticks were taped together, but the game stick from the gold medal game was missing. He still doesn't have it.

Somebody does somewhere, but he or she can't sell it. No. 1, how do you prove that it is in fact the stick from that game? And, No. 2, if he or she tried to sell it, you can bet that Denis Brodeur Jr. would find it.

Almost gametime. More later...

Let's not forget
03.14.2009 / 6:30 PM

Lost in the story of tonight's history-making endeavor by Martin Brodeur is two other minor historic moments in the game:

Montreal defenseman Patrice Brisebois will play in his 1,000th NHL game and his 887th in a Canadiens uniform. Brisebois is the 11th player in Habs history to play in his 1,000th NHL game in a Canadiens jersey after Henri Richard, Claude Provost, Frank Mahovlich, Larry Robinson, Bob Gainey, Jean Beliveau, Stephane Quintal, Roman Hamrlik, Bryan Smolinski and Alex Kovalev. He is just the fourth blue-liner to play his 1,000th NHL game wearing the bleu, blanc et rouge. The other four are Robinson, Serge Savard and Doug Harvey.

Brisebois started his NHL career with the Canadiens on Jan. 27, 1991 wearing No. 43 against the Boston Bruins at the Montreal Forum. He wore the same number for his first tenure in Montreal from 1991-2004. He played two seasons with Colorado before returning to the Canadiens prior to last season. He and Mathieu Schneider are the only current players on the team that played for the 1993 Stanley Cup championship squad.

And, on New Jersey's side, Patrik Elias is just two points shy of John MacLean's team record of 701 points. Elias has 291 goals and 408 assists for 699 points in 812 games. MacLean had 347 goals and 354 assists for 701 points in 934 games.

Press box seat No. 17
03.14.2009 / 6 PM

I've made my way to the press box here at the Bell Centre, to seat No. 17. With roughly 90 minutes to go before faceoff (as I write, this, of course) the place is slowly filling up. My favorite scoreboard is right in front of me. I'm not sure how big this massive scoreboard is, but I love the fact that it's all HD.

I walked into the arena with Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, not to mention Devils' beat writers Tom Gulitti from the Bergen Record and Rich Chere from the Newark Star-Ledger. There was a good gathering of fans waiting outside the media/player entrance, but I did not see Martin Brodeur. I guess I'll just have to trust that he's here.

I know his father, Denis Sr., is in the building. He sat and chatted with myself as well as Devils broadcasters Chico Resch, Steve Cangelosi, Matt Loughlin and Sherry Ross. Mike Emrick, who normally does play-by-play for the Devils is back in New York preparing for tomorrow's NHL on NBC broadcast at Madison Square Garden, a 12:30 p.m. ET tilt between the Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers beat the Rangers in Philly today, 4-2.

So, it's prediction time I guess. And, before you get all crazy, I am not predicting a score. That would just be too silly for me to do.

However, I do predict that if the Devils hold at least a two goal lead in the third period the fans in the building will turn on their Habs and start rooting for Brodeur, their hometown boy. If there are any fans that appreciate history and records its the ones that live in this part of the continent so I know they will appreciate what Brodeur could accomplish tonight. It may hurt their Habs to lose a crucial game they so desperately need, but history prevails, even over  a playoff race.

The one thing I'm hoping to avoid tonight is a shootout. All that will do is spark the arguments of whether Brodeur actually did tie Patrick Roy's record tonight. As I'm sure you are aware, Roy won all of his 551 games without the help of the shootout. Brodeur is the career leader with 27 shootout wins in his career and has 38 fewer regulation victories than Roy.

For those of a dissenting opinion on this topic, just realize it's a different era of hockey now and Brodeur is simply playing within the rules of the game. Plus, does anyone really think that Brodeur won't win more than 551 games in either regulation or overtime. Heck, the guy could do it as early as next year, so the point will be moot.

Either way, we're approaching game time and history could be made tonight.

It should be fun. More later...

Morning presser
03.14.2009 / 12:55 PM

Martin Brodeur met the bi-lingual media this morning. Click here for a portion of the transcript.

One of the funniest things of the morning happened just as Brodeur was arriving at the rink. As he walked past the press conference room he saw his father, Denis Sr., doing a radio interview. I was standing in front of the door to the press conference room chatting with Denis Jr. As Martin walked past he said in French (Denis Jr. translated it to me), "Hey dad, you playing tonight?" Denis Sr. didn't hear him, but Denis Jr. did and he started laughing.

Martin then turned back around and said, "I don't know, he doesn't look too focused."

Even at a time when the pressure is definitely mounting, Martin finds time to crack some jokes. For those of us privileged to be in this business and to talk to him on a regular basis, that's what makes this chase at history so special for us. It couldn't be happening to a more media-friendly guy in my estimation.

Brodeur spent 15 minutes at the podium this morning answering questions in both English and French. He laughed and had the room cracking up at some of the things he was saying. At one point someone asked him in French if he was going to party after the game if he wins. Brodeur's response, "I don't know. We have an 11 o'clock flight and we're definitely going home." It had everybody in the room cracking up only because everybody knows the Devils run a tight ship and rarely, if ever, change their plans.

I thought it was great when one scribe asked Brodeur what he has to say about the style that he plays versus the butterfly style that Patrick Roy made famous.

Brodeur's response: Everybody plays like Patrick, so who is the true pioneer here? You be the judge.

Prophetic papa
03.14.2009 / 9:50 AM

Before heading over to the Bell Centre for Brodeur's 10:45 a.m. ET press conference today - I'm thinking it should be a zoo, but since the Habs are skating at their state-of-the-art practice facility in Brossard maybe the media contingent will be split - I wanted to bring you this great story from the mouth of Denis Brodeur, Sr.

I asked Denis if at any time through Marty's chase has he heard from Patrick Roy? He said he hasn't. I then asked how well he knew Patrick Roy? After all, Denis was the team photographer for the Canadiens in the years St. Patrick was with the club.

Denis said he knew Patrick and did work with him, but after games he never wandered over to Patrick's locker because that's where everybody went and it was so crowded. So, one time he walked over to backup goalie Brian Hayward and had this little thing to say:

"I went over to Brian Hayward and said, 'You know, I have this young boy and he's in bantam now. I think he's going to do alright.' "

Yeah, he's OK.

FRIDAY, MARCH 13

Wish him good luck yourself
03.13.2009 / 9:38 PM

Denis Brodeur, Jr. works his tail off to keep up this web-site dedicated to his brother. He wanted me to send out a message urging fans who are interesting in Brodeur's chase at history to post into the guestbook, which can be found if you drag your mouse over the Fanzone link at the top of the page.

You can post your thoughts on Brodeur's career and his pending assault on the record books. Many fans are already in there wishing him well as he tries to tie Patrick Roy's mark of 551 wins Saturday night.

Awesome afternoon
03.13.2009 / 9:30 PM

Sometimes in this job you experience things that are nearly impossible to put into words. I tried to give my afternoon in St. Leonard justice in a piece I just filed to our editors back in New York, and even though my editors told me I did, I'm not quite sure.

You be the judge.

It all started this morning as I sat in Newark Airport waiting for my 10:30 a.m. flight to Montreal. As I was reading the New York Post, my mind wandered as I tried to think of what I was going to do today. I had already filed a follow story after Thursday night's 5-2 win, but it wasn't enough.

I was going to have from 1:30 on today to do something. Sitting around wasn't going to cut it. My bosses send me up here to work, not play, and they were expecting me to produce something. However, I wasn't going to make it in time for the Canadiens practice, and the Devils practiced in Newark earlier today.

Without hockey, what is a hockey writer supposed to do?

Then it hit me: Call up Denis Brodeur, Jr.

So, while still waiting for my flight to board, I called up Marty's 38-year-old brother at around 9:45 and he answered. I asked Denis for any help he could give me in coming up with a unique and interesting story about Marty today. He said, "Why don't you come here?"

That's where I was going with my call, but I'm glad he went there first.

But, it only got better.

At first I was thinking I'd head over to Arena Martin-Brodeur, where Marty learned to skate and played his minor hockey. It was called Arena St.-Leonard until 2000 when the city renamed it in honor of their favorite son. Denis said it was a good idea, and maybe he could get his father, Denis Sr., to join us there.

OK, now we're cooking, now we're on to something. I invited Devils broadcaster Matt Loughlin to join me and our plans were set.

After checking into my hotel around 1:15, I called Denis again and told him that Matt and I were going to grab a quick bite to eat and then we'd cab it up to the arena. Denis, full of ideas today, had another great one. He invited us to La Pizzeria Etc., a restaurant owned by both Marty and Sheldon Souray, for lunch. From there, he said, we'd go over to Denis Sr.'s house, where he and Marty and their three other siblings grew up, and then we'd go to the arena.

This was all too good to be true, so off we went. A long cab ride later, we arrived at the restaurant, where we were treated to excellent food, including a wonderful salad, some marvelous poutine and great pizza. The large pie had shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, oysters and two types of mushrooms on it. For a guy who loves his New York slice it was daring, but so delicious.

My favorite part of the day happened next when we drove over to the house. After writing so much about the place over the last couple of months, it felt great to finally see it. Denis Sr. was so warm and welcoming. As you'll read in my piece, the house is an absolute shrine the game of hockey and pictures of Marty are everywhere.

I couldn't believe that Denis Sr. let me hold his 1956 Olympic team sweater. I couldn't imagine wearing it. So small and itchy, but that's a piece of hockey history right there. He even let me hold his Jacques Plante-style mask up to my face. After Plante, Denis' mask was the second of its kind.

We finished our Martin Brodeur roots tour at the arena.

I can't thank the Brodeur family enough for welcoming me into their home and allowing me such unbelievable access to cover this story. They are truly wonderful, wonderful people. I now see where Marty gets it from.

Hitting the road
03.13.2009 / 1:26 PM

Could we see hockey history Saturday night in a city where legends are made?

Absolutely, which is why I'm here, in downtown Montreal, right now.

The Martin Brodeur Record Watch is on the road and it's taken us to the city where he grew up. Right now I'm welcoming you to this blog from the 31st floor of the Marriott Montreal Chateau Champlain, a quick walk from the Bell Centre. I'm staring out my window at a picturesque view of downtown. I can't see it now, but to my right is St. Leonard, the little suburb where Martin Brodeur's legend was born.

That's where I'll be headed in an hour. I'm going to meet up with Denis Brodeur, Jr., Martin's brother, at La Pizzeria Etc. on Henri Bourassa for some lunch. It's one of three pizzeria's Marty co-owns. Then we're heading over to the Arena Martin-Brodeur, where a young Marty played all of his minor hockey. It's a roots tour of Martin Brodeur's life.

Tomorrow morning Brodeur will meet the bi-lingual media at 10:45 a.m. ET inside the Bell Centre. I'm sure it will be a heavily attended press conference. And, Saturday night he'll be chasing history as he hopes to catch his idol with win No. 551.

Brodeur picked up No. 550 last night in Newark with a 5-2 win over Phoenix. He knows how crazy this weekend in Montreal is going to be, but he's ready for the spectacle and he's embracing it like any athlete on pace for history should.

This is the first of many installments of our new Brodeur Blog. It will continue until he breaks one of the most revered records in our great sport.

Contact Dan Rosen at drosen@nhl.com

Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure