In the first half of this weekend’s home-and-home series against New Jersey, the Capitals will face arguably the most iconic Devil of them all in net once again.
Martin Brodeur, now 39, is in the twilight of his career. He’s the owner of 627 wins heading into tonight’s game along with four Vezina Trophies, three Stanley Cups and NHL records for wins, games played and shutouts. Brodeur’s place among a select group of elite netminders is unquestioned.
“For goalie play over 1,000 games, that’s unbelievable,” Tomas Vokoun said. “Obviously it says a lot about his durability, not just his skill. What a career. You look at the numbers, and it says it all.”
But the Brodeur the Capitals will face at Prudential Center tonight — in his 1,138th regular season contest — is no longer in his prime. Johan Hedberg may see more games for the Devils than Brodeur — who is 2-2 with an .885 save percentage this season while battling injuries — by the time the year is done.
That doesn’t make facing the future Hall of Famer any less a challenge for opponents.
“I don’t care who you are,” Mike Knuble said, “As a forward you probably get a little kick, a little sparkle in your eye if you’re lucky enough to get a goal on him, as he has that great reputation. As a shooter, it’s a great challenge. You can’t help but feel good if you get one on him.”
Knuble feels that the league-wide respect for Brodeur is based on his success, reputation and the fear he still can put in opposing teams and coaches.
“I remember playing for coaches that were just so psyched out by him they would structure a whole game plan around keeping the puck away from him,” Knuble explained. “This and that and ‘Don’t get psyched out by Brodeur’ when they’re psyching their whole team out by Marty Brodeur.”
Notes: Ilya Kovalchuk will miss both games against the Capitals this weekend, according to Devils Coach Peter DeBoer. Kovalchuk did not play in New Jersey’s last two contests because of a nagging leg muscle pull.