To his credit, the future Hall of Fame goalie was up to the challenge entering Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Semifinal series on Sunday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.
FLYERS VS. DEVILS
Briere's OT goal lifts Flyers past DevilsBy Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor
Danny Briere's blast from the point at 4:36 of overtime was his second goal of the game and gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 1-0 series lead with a 4-3 win against the New Jersey Devils. READ MORE ›
"They go around the net a lot and spent a lot more time in our zone than the [Florida] Panthers did [in the first round] so it was certainly physically more challenging for me in this game than in the other games I've played in the playoffs," Brodeur told reporters following his team's 4-3 overtime loss.
Not only did the Flyers create traffic and congestion in front of Brodeur whenever the opportunity presented itself, but they also forced the opposition to block the sight lines for the 39-year-old goalie.
"It was mostly my own players I had issues with," Brodeur said. "I know [David Clarkson] fell on me at one point. They have big bodies and they go in front of the net and are tough in the crease. But I had no issues with any of their players."
Brodeur, who was playing in his third straight overtime game, finished with 32 saves, including 14 in the third period. He said he enjoyed the contest, but felt as though James van Riemsdyk interfered with him a bit on Danny Briere's game-winner 4:36 into the extra period.
"The referees have a hard job … they see it live and JVR pushed my stick over when he came across," Brodeur said. "He didn't do it on purpose. He's just going to the net. I got my position there, but it prevented me from making the save."
Briere actually had an apparent goal disallowed 2:13 into overtime after a video review revealed he had kicked the puck into the net from between the circles.
"I think when it goes so quick like that for the refs, especially after disallowing the kick-in goal, they wouldn't allow that twice in Philly, that's for sure," Brodeur said.
Devils captain Zach Parise said the team wasn't surprised with Philadelphia's game plan in front of Brodeur.
"We always expect that playing these guys," Parise said. "That's kind of the reputation they have and they've been doing it for years so I don't think we were surprised at all. They've always played that style where they throw pucks in the crease and jam away. That's their trademark."
With 7:30 remaining in the third period of a 3-3 game, Brodeur actually landed three shots on van Riemsdyk, who was face-down in his crease. No penalty was called on the play and van Riemsdyk skated away unfazed to the delight of the hometown faithful. On van Riemsdyk's second-period goal that gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead, Jakub Voracek curled the net and just knocked into Brodeur, who was attempting to play the puck at the time.
"Ideally, you just try to limit the pucks going to the net and box out a little better," Parise said.
Despite the loss, Brodeur is looking forward to Game 2 on Tuesday. The Devils traveled back to Newark on Sunday night and will practice at Prudential Center on Monday.
"These are fun games," Brodeur said. "I really enjoyed playing this hockey game. We didn't win, but as a hockey player, what better feeling to come in and battle it out with the Flyers in a tie game in overtime. It was fun."
Parise feels the Devils could do a better job making life difficult for Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov in Game 2.
"Maybe we can get in the crease a little more on Bryzgalov," he said.
Devils forward Petr Sykora, who scored his first goal of the playoffs 11:22 into the third to square the game at 3-3, agreed with Parise.
"The Flyers did a good job going to the net and going to the crease," he said. "I think we should do a little more of that and get more pressure on Bryz. But that's just they play. That's what they do and to their credit, they did a pretty good job."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter: @mike_morreale