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Playing in Devils' finale could be up to Brodeur

by Mike G. Morreale

NEWARK, N.J. -- The chances New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur will get one final start before the conclusion of the season look pretty good.

At least that's what Devils coach Peter DeBoer would like to see transpire Sunday when the Devils close their 2013-14 schedule against the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center.

It will give fans one more opportunity to chant Brodeur's name and applaud the effort one final time if it is his curtain call for the only organization he's played for the past 20 seasons.

Martin Brodeur
Goalie - NJD
RECORD: 18-14-6
GAA: 2.52 | SVP: 0.901
"Every time I play it could be my last game," Brodeur said following a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Friday. "That's the way I kind of approach it."

Brodeur wasn't so sure he would play against the Islanders but he did. His first appearance in six games got off to a rocky start when he allowed the first goal on New York's second shot, but he finished with 28 saves, including four in overtime.

After the game, Brodeur sat at his locker stall and chatted with reporters inquiring about his future with the Devils. The 41-year-old acknowledged throughout the week he remains noncommittal on his destination. He can become an unrestricted free agent this summer and has expressed all season his desire to play more.

"We'll see for Sunday," Brodeur said. "It doesn't matter; the last game is the last game. I'm going to reflect on having an unbelievable career in New Jersey regardless if I decide to stay or do something else. For me it's not about my last performance, it's about what I've accomplished as a whole."

As a whole, no goalie has done it better. Brodeur is the all-time leader in games (1,257), wins (687), shutouts (124) and minutes played (73,958).

"I got to see him throughout my career and learn from him from the moment I got here," Devils center Travis Zajac said. "I've seen his competitiveness, it's something I learned from here for sure."

The familiar chants of "Marty! Marty!" rarely subsided when the game became a nail-biter. Brodeur made a breakaway save and snared a shot with his glove with the Islanders working a 4-on-3 power-play in overtime.

DeBoer said he is likely to give Brodeur the opportunity to start against the Bruins.

"I'd like Marty to play on Sunday, but I haven't spoken to him about that [yet]," DeBoer said.

Brodeur said a decision is likely to come at practice Saturday.

"It took me a while to really feel comfortable in the nets [Friday] since I hadn't played in about two weeks," Brodeur said. "But when I started getting a little bit more shots, I felt more comfortable as the game wore on. We hardly had any practice time since we've had so many back-to-backs too. So it took a while, but by the end of second, I started feeling the puck a little better."

If Brodeur does start Sunday, it will be his 39th game of 2013-14. That would mark his fewest games played over a full 82-game season since a torn distal biceps tendon, the first major injury of his career, in 2008-09 limited him to 31.

One primary reason Brodeur appeared in fewer games this season was the play of Cory Schneider, who was acquired by the Devils from the Vancouver Canucks at the NHL Draft last June 30 in a trade for a first-round pick. Schneider, who has played seven games more than Brodeur, is third in the NHL with a 1.97 goals-against average.

DeBoer said it hasn't been easy pleasing two top-level goalies on the roster.

"There's a lot of people out there who wish they had two goalies like we have but it hasn't been easy on them," DeBoer said. "Both guys want to play and they both deserve more starts than they got. The professionalism they showed made it easier on me but it hasn't but it hasn't been easy on anybody."

There is the feeling Devils fans would prefer if Brodeur closed his career in New Jersey, where it began in 1991-92.

"I did hear the fans, it was pretty nice," Brodeur said. "I made a couple of big saves there and they chanted my name. The fans have always been good to me. Not much I can complain about that."


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