It was only last March when New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur went into Bell Centre in Montreal and scored a 3-1 victory over the Canadiens to equal Patrick Roy's mark for career victories with 551 -- he'd set the standard three days later at home in a 3-2 triumph over the Chicago Blackhawks. Brodeur has since ballooned that total to 577.
On Wednesday, Brodeur will equal another record when he's asked to defend his goal crease for the 1,029th time of his career -- tying a mark established by Roy six seasons ago. As fate would have it, his opponent is again Montreal, the team he idolized as a kid. This time, the contest will be held at Prudential Center in Newark.
It'll be the third time in 10 months that the 37-year-old Brodeur will equal or have surpassed a League record -- he also passed Roy for the most minutes played (60,762) by a goalie last month. Then there's this other record the hockey world has been paying close attention to -- most shutouts. His next blanking will be the 104th of his 16-season career, one more than Hockey Hall of Famer Terry Sawchuk.
"I just want to get it over with so people will stop talking about it," Brodeur said of the shutout record.
Perhaps Devils play-by-play announcer Mike "Doc" Emrick summed it up best when asked his opinion of Brodeur during these record-setting performances.
"Remarkably unchanged by it all," Emrick said. "This is a guy who could have probably been different the day after setting the wins record or the next day after setting the minutes-played record, but there he was, as he always is, at his dressing stall talking to people. There's never been a hitch in this guy."
Devils defenseman Colin White, who has manned the blue line in front of Brodeur the last 10 seasons, is amazed by his teammate.
"This is a guy who could have probably been different the day after setting the wins record or the next day after setting the minutes-played record, but there he was, as he always is, at his dressing stall talking to people. There's never been a hitch in this guy." -- Mike "Doc" Emrick
White admits his on-ice relationship with Brodeur hasn't changed since the first day he stepped on the ice for the Devils.
"We talk, but not too much out there," White said. "I think we read off of each other; we know what our game plan is because we talk before the game a little more about how a team will forecheck. If they like to dump the puck and what we'll do if that happens. Some teams are trying to keep it away from the trapezoid, obviously, because they know how good Marty is at handling the puck."
Come to think of it, Brodeur isn't all about defense. He's connected for 33 points, including 1 goal, over his storied career throughout the regular season. He's started 28 of the Devils' 31 games this season, leads the NHL with 20 wins, is fourth with a 2.14 goals-against average and 10th with a .920 save percentage.
"You don't look for a perfect game (from) an average player," Devils coach Jacques Lemaire said. "It's like (Zach) Parise. You look for a perfect game. Travis (Zajac), you look for a perfect game because they're good. Marty, you look for a perfect game because they're good hockey players. You could look at them and say they played good, but they can do a lot more."
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