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Opening Night always a thrill

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Brodeur still gets excited for the opener. 
The excitement of Opening Night never gets old.

"It's fun," Martin Brodeur said. "It's the start of something new. I think everybody starts at zero, and now you're building up toward the playoffs by trying to have a great season. Here we go, you know? That's the great thing about home openers, they're always exciting because of that. It's still a hockey game, but you know that day, it's all starting."

Brodeur, who last year surpassed Patrick Roy as the winningest goalie in League history, will hit two milestones in the first game. With his 15th consecutive opening night start, he'll eclipse Roy and Terry Sawchuk for the most all-time. He'll also join Roy as the only netminders with 1,000 appearances.

Brodeur's ranks the Devils' 1996 home opener as his all-time favorite. That night, the team raised the banner commemorating their 1995 Stanley Cup title.

"Those are the most fun opening nights," he said. "Whenever you finish a season, start a new one and there's a banner, it's like, 'Wow, that's pretty cool.' We've done that three times and they're pretty special."

Jacques Lemaire coached the Devils to that first Cup and now finds himself back in New Jersey to deliver an encore. Eager "to get in and get the ball rolling," Lemaire wished the first few games were already out of the way.

"I wish it was the fifth game," he said.

After the Devils' successful exhibition season, Mike Mottau says the team is well-prepared to play the games that finally count.

"It's good to finally have that feeling of excitement coming into a game," he said. "After all the hard work in the preseason, it starts tonight." 

Jersey's Team set a franchise record with its 51-win campaign of a year ago. Their 2009 postseason fell short of expectations, but there's a long road ahead before the playoffs come back into view.

"It sounds cliché, but you have to take it one game at a time to start off," Mottau said. "You work on the new system that's been implemented, and work on executing with the options that we have. The wins will take care of themselves. We have a good group guys in here and we can't be worrying about trying to match certain numbers. Things will take care of themselves as we go throughout the season."

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