NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur
looks behind him, way in the distance, and sees Detroit's Chris Osgood
in second place among all active goalies in career shutouts.
Osgood has a respectable 50; Brodeur on Monday night tied Terry Sawchuk
's NHL record with his 103rd. Brodeur and Osgood are the same age, separated only by 204 days.
So, no, Osgood isn't catching Brodeur, who will inevitably have the shutout record all to himself. Neither is Evgeni Nabokov
, who has 49, but is 34-years-old. Roberto Luongo
, 30, also has 49 shutouts, but he would need Brodeur to stop playing today to have a chance.
That's not happening. Brodeur plans to play at least until his contract runs out in 2012.
While Devils coach Jacques Lemaire
said Tuesday that he doesn't think Brodeur's record for shutouts will ever be touched, we need to remember that for three decades people were saying the same thing about Sawchuk's record.
Then Brodeur came along and matched it. He will pass it soon, probably this season and maybe even before we welcome in 2010, but he doesn't think it's untouchable even if it appears so right now.
Brodeur wasn't even born when Sawchuk picked up his 103rd shutout. Perhaps, neither is the goalie who will eventually catch Brodeur's records.
"I think it's a bar that I put for goalies," Brodeur said Tuesday at Prudential Center. "People in the past put bars for goalies to excel and I've reached them. Hopefully I'll raise 'em up and good for the guy that's going to go after them. I've been having a pretty good ride. It's been pretty tremendous what we've accomplished here in New Jersey and for myself, so for any goalie to get to the wins and shutout records it means they're going to be real successful. All the power to them if they're able to get there."
Brodeur's mindset entering Monday's game in Buffalo was the same as it has been since Oct. 17, when he blanked the Carolina Hurricanes
in Newark to record his 102nd shutout. Not normally one to think about a shutout before a game, he admits it was harder to do while staring at 103.
"I know people, every time I went into the third period with no goals allowed, would be asking, 'Were you thinking about it? Were you thinking about it?'" Brodeur said. "My brother (Denis Jr.) was here for two weeks helping me out with my newborn and he's like, 'Chico (Resch) said it in the second period that you could have a shutout. He jinxed you.' I'm like, 'I'm sure a lot of people said it, too.'
"I think from my family the expectation of it was greater than my own probably. It was there for me and I wanted to do it, but I know how that works more than a guy who doesn't play the game."
As the game played on, Brodeur was perfect through two periods. Three other times in the 17 games since he beat Carolina, 3-0, he went into the second intermission with a shutout intact. He never preserved it past the 10-minute mark of the third period.
Monday night, he was admittedly nervous. He hated it.
"It doesn't matter how you feel," Brodeur said. "The bounces around you, they're everywhere and you're vulnerable to referee calls and non-calls. You have to play the game the way it is played and I think you stay focused and good things will happen. It's all about winning. If you have it in your mind that you want to win this game and you're doing everything to win, the next thing you know you'll have a shutout opportunity."
He had it in Buffalo and he preserved it.
Long after the game was over, Brodeur said he was watching the NHL Network when he saw a list of the all-time career leaders in shutouts. He stared in awe at his name right at the top of a list that included Sawchuk, George Hainsworth
(94), Glenn Hall
(84) and Jacques Plante
Save for Hall, they're all ghosts to Brodeur. He never saw them play.
"It's mind boggling because you look at the names attached, all the older goalies I never had a chance to see or meet, and now you see my name and I'm still playing and it's on top. That's pretty good," Brodeur said. "It's hard for me to fathom."
Imagine how Osgood, Nabokov, Luongo and every other goalie, young or old, feels.
"This is pretty cool," Brodeur said. "Everything is gravy from now on."
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org