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Brodeur probable for Tuesday

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Brodeur will once again wear his retro mask for the Devils' red and green game vs. Washington on Friday. The back of the mask even features "29" for the number he wore in his 1992 NHL debut.

Success in one-goal games has been a huge part of the Devils’ 22-3-2 run in their last 27 games.

Seventeen of their last 19 contests have been decided by a single goal, including 12 of their last 14 victories. They’re also 7-2-0 in their last nine, all of which have been one-goal games.

Martin Brodeur has started seven in a row, and will “probably” make his eighth straight appearance Tuesday against Atlanta, according to Jacques Lemaire.

Brodeur said Monday that he can’t allow his mindset to be affected by all these one-goal decisions where one bounce can change everything.

“You play the game the way it’s played,” Brodeur said. “For years that question has been asked to me because we didn’t score that many goals and were always in tight games. I don’t look at like, ‘I can’t allow more than one or two  goals,’ I don’t see it like that. I just play the game the way it’s played. At the end of the game, it ends up to be a one-goal game or a 2-1 game or a 3-2 game.

The Devils trail the Rangers by eight points in the playoff chase with 14 games remaining and two games in hand. Their offense isn’t producing a ton of goals, but they’re not allowing many, either.

New Jersey hasn’t given up more than two goals since Feb. 4, a span of 16 games.

“What I’m enjoying right now is regardless of how we play, we’re staying in games,” Brodeur said. “Even though we allow goals, we keep it under control when we’re not playing that good. I think that makes it easier for me. Even though I [give up] one goal, I know we’re able to shut it down and chip back into the game.”

Brodeur, who's won six of seven, has been a big reason why. On Saturday, his save on Michael Grabner's shorthanded breakaway kept the Devils within striking distance of the Islanders. David Clarkson tied the game 31 seconds later, and Anssi Salmela won it in overtime.

"He's an important piece of this puzzle, this team," Jacques Lemaire said. "He's a guy that will give us a chance to win. He's a guy that can make the big saves in the game that gets us closer to coming back in the game, gets us closer to winning games.

"Look at the last game as an example: breakaway, he makes the big save there. We were still losing at that time, but we came back. That's what I'm saying, he gives us a chance to stay in and do what we have to do."

A close-up of the mask Brodeur wore last year. GETTY IMAGES
Brodeur will once again go retro on Friday, when the Devils wear their vintage red and green uniforms at home against Washington. Last year, Brodeur wore a reproduction of the mask from his 1992 NHL debut and used red Sher-Wood sticks of the same era.

He had hoped to work the mask into his rotation sometime before the game.

“I was going to bring it in to practice a couple of times, but I keep on forgetting it,” he said.

Its design is simple: solid red with white diagonal stripes at the temples. Faux "puck marks" were even incorporated into the paint job to give the mask a worn appearance. It was the style he had been wearing when he was called up from the now defunct St. Hyacinthe Laser of the QMJHL.

“When I got up to the NHL when I was 19 I had that mask. Instead of leaving the ‘Laser,’ I just put tape on it and wrote ‘Devils,’” he said.

Brodeur won’t go with new a catching glove, blocker or pads, though. When he debuted, his blue and white gloves didn’t even match the Devils uniform. But for one retro game a season, it would be too much work to break in a separate pair.

“If we played five or six games a year, I would do it,” he said.

The Devils brought back their original uniforms last March 17 for a thrilling 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. It was their first time wearing them since the team changed its official colors to red and black at the start of the 1992-93 season.

Lemaire isn't too concerned about the Devils' lack of scoring. Though they've notched three goals in back-to-back games, they have been held to two or less in seven of nine.

Still, the wins are piling up.

"You can be worried thinking about it, on the other hand, you say 'Well, that's enough to win,'" Lemaire said. "If the other teams are scoring more and we're not scoring more, then there will be a problem. As long as you win, it's not bad, and you're trying to improve the scoring. That's the way it is."

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