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Thank God for Nabokov!

by Phil Coffey /

New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur is
thankful that there is finally another netminder in the League, the Sharks' Evgeni Nabokov, who is
just as determined to play every game as he is.
Every season, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur answers scores of questions about whether his heavy regular-season workload causes him to wear down come Stanley Cup Playoff time.

So as you might expect, Brodeur is a big fan of Sharks masked man Evgeni Nabokov, who has thus far started every game for San Jose and shown no inclination to take a game off.

"Every single game," Brodeur said. "I love it. I hope they play him every game too, so they can give me a rest about playing too much. ... It's amazing. The goalies are playing a lot of games now.

"Every year is always the same," Brodeur said. "There's always that question mark with the age or whatever. Always people will ask me that stuff. It's kind of nice to get back to where people expect me to be. And that's expectations. I've created that. If I never won more than 30 games, people would never ask me to win 40 games every year."

Here is a sampling of what is being said around the NHL this week.


“He’s been on the puck, he’s done the things we’ve asked him to do, he’s driven the middle lane, hung around the front of the net. He’s been safe and responsible defensively. The offense hasn’t provided a huge number count, but we’re happy with his play with the puck and away from the puck.”

-- Anaheim Ducks coach Randy Carlyle on new addition Brandon Bochenski, acquired from the Bruins for defenseman Shane Hnidy.


“I don’t care if I’m on the first line or second line. It doesn’t matter. I just want to be there.”

-- Alex Ovechkin is eager to skate for the East in the All-Star Game.


“It’s the attitude. It’s the approach. It has nothing to do with the schedule or whatever streak we are on. It’s a frame of mind, for whatever reason. We have to solve it first internally. We’re not going to discuss it here. But we do have problems, serious problems.”

-- Atlanta Thrashers center Bobby Holik after a lopsided loss to the Flyers on Tuesday.


“When you don’t work, you don’t win. This team has not been capable of working for 60 minutes for a while now. That’s something that’s been addressed in the dressing room. Until we manage to do that, we’re going to have our ups and downs.”

-- Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien

“The single best thing about Dion? Competitive energy. He never stops. He loves to battle. He never runs out of energy. He never has a day where it looks like he’s dragging. He always finds it. Every game, he’s got enough to get into (the opposition’s) face. His competitiveness and energy -- probably up there with Theo Fleury as the highest I’ve ever seen.”

-- Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla on teammate Dion Phaneuf.


“He stabilized our franchise. I can’t say enough about how much he’s brought to our team. The first 15 games we were getting good goaltending, that wasn’t an issue with the squad. When we were able to get Bryz, we got great goaltending.”

-- Phoenix Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.


Well Said

"It’s kind of neat to be only behind Gordie Howe now, as oldest player. Must be something in the water in Michigan."

-- Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios on becoming the second oldest player, next to Gordie Howe, to appear in an NHL game

“He’s a real good character guy and an NHL player. He hasn’t had the same production over the last few years for whatever reason, but in our situation with so many injuries and especially with Williams being out and not knowing when certain guys are coming back, he can come in and help.”

-- Carolina Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford on acquiring forward Sergei Samsonov off waivers from Chicago.


“When I was asked to come up here about three months ago I started thinking about all the guys Montreal had on their teams in those years and all the players we had on the Blackhawks in all the years we played against them. There were quite a lot of people involved. You think back and you have a story about almost every one of them.”

-- Hall of Famer Stan Mikita, who was honored along with a host of Chicago players prior to a game at Montreal’s Bell Centre.


“From our coaching staff, I can assure you that we’re burning the midnight oil. I can assure you that we’re analyzing, maybe over-analyzing the games. This is the first game in months where we played poorly.

“We played awful. It was a stinker. There’s no two ways about it. You can’t mask this one, anyway. It was awful. We all have to take responsibility, myself included.”

-- Kings coach Marc Crawford after a 7-0 loss to Nashville Tuesday.


“The fans are the ones that are voting, so definitely when you get the top votes for a goaltender, especially when they have a lot of popular goalies in the East with (Henrik) Lundqvist, (Rick) DiPietro, (Cristobal) Huet in Montreal, it’s nice.”

-- Martin Brodeur on being voted the Eastern Conference starter in goal.

Well Said II

"Expectations have to be higher. This team hasn’t been in the playoffs for quite some time, and we’re capable. We really don’t have a good excuse to say we have this problem or that problem. You run out of excuses and have to look at yourself. I should be better. We all should be better."

-- Florida Panthers goalie Tomas Vokoun


“I’m pretty spoiled waking up every day and going to the rink, have (Jason) Spezza in the middle and (Dany) Heatley on the other side. You know, not a lot of players are that fortunate. But it’s going to be a lot of fun to play with Sidney and Vincent, there’s no question, especially seeing what kind of years they’re having.”

-- Ottawa Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson won’t exactly be slumming when he starts for the East at the All-Star Game.


“We realize we have dug ourselves a hole. We have to dig ourselves out of it. We have to keep going forward. I look at the number of teams that are fighting for a playoff spot this season and it might be 15.”

-- Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz


“That’s a good way to put it, but it’s also a way of saying we’re trying to push this team forward. This organization has never wanted to take a step back, not make the playoffs for a lot of years and hopefully get a bunch of draft picks and build. This team always feels like it has a chance to win, and you build as you go along.”

-- Stars coach Dave Tippett on the Stars changing the face of their team on the fly with players like Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro assuming more prominent roles.


“Seriously, it’s embarrassing. Our best players have to be our best players. That’s the first step. After that, the rest of the guys will follow. … I don’t think there’s any spark around here right now. It’s kind of frustrating.”

-- Florida Panthers captain Olli Jokinen


“It’s a big honor. My thanks goes to all the people who gave me their votes and my teammates. It’s a big privilege and it’s an honor to be accepted.”

-- Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on being voted an All-Star Game starter.

Well Said III

"He’s had a great year, no secret to anybody in here or you guys. I can’t say enough about how much he’s done for the team. He’s been a real leader for us. Night in and night out, he’s been one of the top players, if not the top player on the ice. It’s great he’s been chosen."

-- Calgary’s Dion Phaneuf on teammate Jarome Iginla’s selection as a Western Conference starter


“I always dreamed about playing in the NHL, but the more you play, the hungrier you get. You want to be an All-Star and you want to win the Stanley Cup.”

-- Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk


“He was very good to me. Very talkative and positive when I met him last year. It was great to be able to play with a player that has done so much at the position he plays.”

-- Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf on meeting the Wings’ Nicklas Lidstrom at last season’s All-Star Game.


“He may not be as fast as he once was, but the smartness has not gone away. We just felt he would be a good fit. He’s taken advantage of it and given us more than we expected, and he’s been a good guy in the dressing room. His hands are still really good. Give him a chance and he will score some goals.”

-- Thrashers GM/coach Don Waddell on Mark Recchi.


“Obviously E.J. living at Al (MacInnis’) house has paid off. That was an Al MacInnis Jr. play right there. That was a great play by E.J. I remember Al doing that all the time. The kid is coming into his own. He’s going to be the future on this power play for a long time.”

-- The Blues’ Keith Tkachuk on the improving play of rookie defenseman Erik Johnson, who set up Tkachuk’s goal in a win over Columbus.


“We were good during the trip. We were lousy during the trip. We were awful during the trip. We were really good during the trip. Hopefully we can get better in certain situations and get more consistency.”

-- Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella on his team’s just completed road trip.

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.



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