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Devils, Brodeur blank Isles

by Brian Compton
A few thoughts while a hockey mom prepares to debate:

Marty’s shutting teams out already – He’s still eight days away from the season opener, but Martin Brodeur was in midseason form at the Nassau Coliseum on Wednesday night.

With 96 regular-season shutouts under his belt, Brodeur played an entire game for the first time this exhibition campaign and stopped all 17 shots he faced in the New Jersey Devils’ 3-0 win over the New York Islanders.

Brodeur was helped by the play of some regulars, including Zach Parise and Patrik Elias, who both scored. Parise opened the scoring with a shorthanded tally at 14:24 of the first period.

“There were a lot of good things tonight,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said. “We have some things to work on, but there are a lot of good signs. We worked hard, we competed hard, and we made some good plays offensively.”

Despite the shutout, Islanders coach Scott Gordon was positive about some of the things he saw during the game.

“I saw a lot of good things, because there are a lot of things that we can talk about tomorrow,” Gordon said. “This exhibition season’s for getting everyone on the same page, so there’s a lot of things we cover in practice that game situations don’t bring up.

“The good part is that we want to make the mistakes now and we want to show the guys on tape that this is why we weren’t efficient in what we needed to do. For me, that’s an important part of the process. I thought we played tentative tonight, where we were supposed to have patience. It was very inconsistent from that side.”

Who’s the guy with the shield? – If you didn’t recognize six-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom on Wednesday night, there’s a reason why.

Due to a broken nose suffered last week, Lidstrom – who also needed stitches over his right eye after being struck with a puck – was forced to wear a face shield. While most would need time to adjust, Lidstrom played like, well, Lidstrom. He notched two assists in the Detroit Red Wings’ 4-1 win against the Thrashers in Atlanta.

“It will take time to get used to wearing a shield, but I will eventually,” Lidstrom said. “I haven't worn one since I was a rookie. I plan to keep it on all season.”

No truth to the rumor that the other four teams in the Central Division will request that Lidstrom wear a blindfold.

Making the most of it – The Montreal Canadiens have averaged seven power plays per game this preseason. If it’s any indication, teams should beware of taking too many penalties against the Habs in 2008-09.

The Canadiens scored three power-play goals on Wednesday night en route to a 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins. Montreal has now scored 11 times in 55 opportunities with the man advantage.

So, what’s the secret?

“It starts with offensive talent,” Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said. “When you have guys like Alex Kovalev, Andrei Kostitsyn, Tomas Plekanec, Saku Koivu, Chris Higgins, Andrei Markov on the point … sometimes you don’t have any choice other than to have success.”

Certainly, there are worse choices one can make in life. You know, like Magic Johnson’s decision to host his own late-night talk show.

Singing the Blues – In reality, it was over before it even started.

The Toronto Maple Leafs simply didn’t have it on Wednesday night, as the St. Louis Blues needed just 11 seconds to score their first goal in a 7-3 rout at the Scottrade Center. Yan Stastny’s quick tally was a sign of things to come, as the Blues scored five times in the opening period.

“A couple of real, simple, elementary mistakes that they took advantage of,” Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. “Big snowball in the first seven, eight minutes. We got to a point finally where we started competing a little bit harder. A lot of guys will have to take stock of their passivity. We want a lot more aggressive approach.”


As for Curtis Joseph’s rough night, Wilson is not concerned about his goaltender. Joseph was pulled 2:56 into the second period after Lee Stempniak’s goal gave St. Louis a 6-1 lead. Joseph allowed those six tallies on just 12 shots.

“He had a rough night,” Wilson said of Joseph. “Normally you wouldn’t, in an exhibition game, take the goalie out. But a lot of shots were going in. I didn’t want Cujo to have to suffer through a night if he didn’t have it. He’ll recover. He’s been through this stuff before.”

A day to remember – For Philadelphia Flyers prospect Luis Sbisa, Wednesday was a day he had been waiting for his whole life.

A first-round selection (No. 19) this past June, the 18-year-old signed on the dotted line on Wednesday with an entry-level contract. It’s a moment the 6-foot-2 defenseman won’t soon forget.

“I’ve been thinking of this moment since I was a little kid,” Sbisa said after the Flyers picked up a 2-1 win against the Washington Capitals at the Wachovia Center. “Today finally was the day. It’s a dream come true. It’s a great feeling to be up here and to sign this contract.”

Now, Sbisa is trying to send shockwaves through Philadelphia by trying to make the big club. Considering he’s still in the City of Brotherly Love, one has to believe Sbisa has at least an outside shot of playing in the NHL this season.

"I’ve been thinking of this moment since I was a little kid. Today finally was the day. It’s a dream come true. It’s a great feeling to be up here and to sign this contract." -- Newest Flyer Luca Sbisa

“I’m still thinking so,” Sbisa said. “I made all the cuts so far, so I keep believing in it. I still keep working hard, and we’ll see what happens.”

Quick start sparks Wild – Fully aware of the firepower the Buffalo Sabres possess up front, the Minnesota Wild knew they’d have to get off to a quick start on Wednesday night in order to come away with a victory.

Mission accomplished.

Antti Miettinen, Owen Nolan and Brent Burns all scored in the first period, which turned out just to be enough as the Wild earned a 3-2 victory at the Xcel Energy Center. It was Minnesota’s third straight win, as Jacques Lemaire’s club improved to 4-1 overall in exhibition play.

“It’s a team that moves the puck well and skates well,” Lemaire said of the Sabres. “They’re well balanced everywhere. It’s tough. You’ve got to be ready to play. I felt we played an exceptional game in the neutral zone against them, and we had to. We were pressing the puck carrier as much as we could. That’s why we stayed in the game and got the lead.”

Contact Brian Compton at:

Material from wire services and team websites was used in this report.


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