NASHVILLE -- Not playing in eight months, even a future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame like Martin Brodeur was curious about what a return to NHL action would feel like.
After all, a 42-year-old doesn't react like a 22-year old. There's a lot of mileage on Brodeur's body.
But despite a 4-3 loss in his St. Louis Blues debut to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, when Brodeur stopped 20 shots, it was evident there is some game left in the tank. It was Brodeur's first game since April 13, when he was with the New Jersey Devils.
"It was a different feeling for me [Thursday]," Brodeur said. "I haven't played in a long time. And coming in the organization with different players, different team, coaching staff, not sure what to expect. I did it for so long with the same people over and over."
Brodeur's first game in a 22-season NHL career for a team other than the Devils didn't result in victory No. 689, but there was sufficient evidence that the Blues can get some quality work from Brodeur while No. 1 goalie Brian Elliott recovers from a knee injury.
"I thought he was really good [Thursday]," Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said of Brodeur. "He gives you an extra defenseman back there with his puck touches. I feel he's only going to get stronger. I thought, especially in the first period, he was stellar and made some big saves for us.
"I'm not a goalie but I'm sure it's not easy going from practicing with a few guys and taking a few shots to game pace in December. It's an elite pace right now. I thought he looked pretty good."
Brodeur was especially strong early when Nashville had 16 of its 24 total shots in the first period. He stopped Colin Wilson in the first minute of the game on a breakaway, and with seven minutes left in the period he made terrific back-to-back left-pad saves on Calle Jarnkrok and Craig Smith.
"You never know how it's going to start," Brodeur said. "But getting in some work from the get-go, I was happy. Just feel the puck and feel the pressure and see how the game's coming at me."
It was a chance for the Blues to feed off their goalie's effective and timely saves.
"It was nice seeing him make those saves," left wing Jaden Schwartz said. "He definitely kept us in it and gave us a chance to win. ... Really he had no chance on a few of those. Not his fault at all.
"It's obviously pretty special. I know it's his first game in a uniform other than New Jersey Devils so I'm sure it was pretty special for him. I was definitely excited to see him make some big saves there early to keep us in it. Tough we didn't get the win for him. Hopefully we get that for him the next time."
Goalie - STL
GAA: 4.07 | SVP: .833
There were mistakes made in front of Brodeur, and those mistakes wound up in the Blues net. Brodeur didn't have much of a chance on any of the four he allowed, but in typical goalie fashion he felt there was one or two he'd like back.
"The second goal, I don't think [Eric Nystrom] was aiming there," Brodeur said of getting beat five-hole from the slot. "I think he was going top glove and he fanned on it. I took it away from him and he went through my legs. Any time a goal goes through you it's never a fun goal to allow."
Brodeur was not at all critical of his teammates for the miscues that resulted in Predators goals. But it is going to take time and repetitions for the players and Brodeur to work hand-in-hand.
"We have skilled players and they make plays," Brodeur said. "I played in an organization that we were pretty limited in skill so we got the puck moving north all the time and didn't really make plays. These guys, they're talented. They're making plays. Sometimes it's good and sometimes we make mistakes. But I'm really happy with the way the boys played in front of me."
With the hoopla surrounding Brodeur's change in jersey, even he reflected on it one final time when he stepped onto the ice for the first time.
"In warm-ups when I came out and I saw the colors of the jerseys, it was just weird to look at. But that went away pretty quick," Brodeur said. "... But glad it's over and now I got it under my belt and we're going to stop talking about it and just play hockey."