-- What is it about the Montreal Canadiens
that brings out the best in Devils goalie Martin Brodeur
For starters, it doesn't hurt that Brodeur is a Montreal native.
"It's fun to play against Montreal," Brodeur said. "A lot of people are watching back home, a lot of fans, a lot of friends and I'm getting a lot of phone calls. There's a lot of attention for myself when you do play against your hometown team."
Really though, Brodeur doesn't need to go into specifics to explain his success over the team he rooted for as a kid. The proof is in the numbers.
Brodeur owns a 37-15-5 all-time mark against the Canadiens with a 1.76 goals-against average and .932 save percentage. He's allowed just one goal in six of his last seven starts -- including three-straight victories dating back to last season in which he's produced a .956 save percentage. He's yielded three or more goals in just three of his last 20 appearances against them.
And he's also notched eight career shutouts, the last coming on Nov. 30, 2007 -- a 27-save, 4-0 victory in Montreal.
Brodeur is hoping for similar success at Prudential Center on Friday when Montreal and New Jersey meet for the third time this season. Brodeur stopped 29 of 30 shots in a 2-1 overtime triumph on Jan. 9 at Bell Centre and 17 of 18 shots in a 2-1 victory on Dec. 16 in New Jersey.
"There's definitely an added excitement when Montreal is in town, I think that's pretty safe to say," Devils forward Jamie Langenbrunner
said. "But guys from Toronto would say the same thing if the Maple Leafs were here and Zach (Parise) and I would get that extra incentive going back to Minnesota. Everyone has a special place they like to play and a special team to play against.
"I'd definitely say though that against Montreal, Marty does have a little more jump in his step."
Brodeur will be making his 28th straight start between the pipes.
The usual heavy workload hasn't fazed the 37-year-old Brodeur.
"I feel good," he said. "I don't remember the last full practice I had -- they're giving me my rest and then I'm playing on game days after taking the morning skate, so I'm feeling pretty good."
It also helps that the team is winning and playing exceptionally well in front of him. The Devils enter Friday's game first in the Eastern Conference with 33 wins and second -- behind Washington -- with 67 points.
"As a team, we've been consistent even though we've been playing a lot of games," Brodeur said.
Following Saturday's game with the Islanders, the Devils will have played seven games in 12 days. His 30th win this season -- a shutout of the Panthers on Wednesday -- came in the team's 48th game of the season. It also marked the 13th time he has won at least 30 games in his 16 seasons -- tying Patrick Roy
's NHL record for most 30-win seasons.
"The first part of the season was good and getting that 30th win at this time is kind of surprising to me just a little bit," Brodeur said. "We've been playing so much lately though, that you don't really think about these things. The defense has been playing great; I like our positioning (of the defense). We never get beat to the net and we always have our sticks down to block shots and make key plays in certain areas of the game."
While he'll have to wait another season to officially set a new standard for most 30-win campaigns, he's certainly had his share of record-breaking performances in 2009-10.
Brodeur has already established records for regular-season games played (1,045), victories (587), shutouts (108) and minutes played (61,697).