-- Martin Brodeur
has always said that playing -- and beating -- the Rangers is always a little more special to him since the Blueshirts are the Devils' biggest rival.
So you'd have to forgive the 37-year-old goaltender if he's a little more excited than normal about having a chance to tie an NHL record against the Rangers.
Brodeur is one shutout away from matching Terry Sawchuk
's all-time record of 103. When he puts blade to ice Thursday night (7 p.m., GCL) at Madison Square Garden, Brodeur can equal the mark in the most hostile of enemy territory.
But in his last 11 games against the Rangers, Brodeur has just one win (1-7-3). For a guy who loves beating Rangers, has the recent lack of success upset him?
"No," Brodeur told the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti. "It is what it is. I get up for games. I played some really, really good games against them. When you score 0, 1 or 2 goals a game -- that's what we've been doing the last three years against them -- it's tough to win hockey games."
In his last start, Brodeur made 26 saves in a 2-0 victory against the Hurricanes to inch closer to the 39-year-old record. The shutout mark won't draw the same attention as his successful chase of Patrick Roy
's all-time wins record and it definitely won't provide the same intensity media coverage, but you can bet he'd like to get it over with as soon as possible.
"It is what it is. I get up for games. I played some really, really good games against them. When you score 0, 1 or 2 goals a game -- that's what we've been doing the last three years against them -- it's tough to win hockey games."
-- Martin Brodeur
Brodeur entered last season 13 career wins behind Roy. However, a biceps tear on Nov. 1, 2008 put Brodeur on the shelf for four months. Upon his return in March, he won 8 of his first 9 games back from injury and eclipsed Roy's mark in front his home fans in New Jersey.
But Brodeur is mindful to say shutouts are for more unpredictable than victories.
"(Shutouts) are a hard one to figure out because every game has its own story so you never know when the next one is going to happen," Brodeur said following the blanking of Carolina on Saturday. "It's hard to look forward to it, but we're one closer. I mean, if the team gets shutouts it means we're winning so everybody's happy."
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire
has the distinction of being behind the bench for 33 of Brodeur's shutouts, more than any other Devils' coach. With the record within reach, don't expect him to change the team's philosophy or do anything differently to help Brodeur get shutout No. 103.
"We won't think like that," Lemaire told Gulitti. "I don't see any players thinking that, 'Hey, we've got to get a shutout, so he gets his record.' If the game, there's five minutes left and [the other team] hasn't scored, then you might think about it. But, besides that, forget it."