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May 27, 2:16 PM ET
Giguere's been good, but so has Brodeur
By EJ Hradek
ESPN The Magazine
While Mighty Ducks goaltending sensation Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been all the rage of these playoffs, Devils veteran goalie Martin Brodeur has been overshadowed.
While Giguere has put himself on the map (he even scored a spot in "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"), Brodeur has followed up a tremendous regular season with an even better postseason campaign. The latest being a 24-save outing that helped New Jersey oust Ottawa and land a spot in the Stanley Cup finals.
"I've run out of things to say about Martin Brodeur," Devils coach Pat Burns said after Friday's Game 7. "He was great during the regular season, now he's found another level. To me, he's the MVP of the league."
Now, the two French-Canadian netminders will meet in the ultimate showdown.
In Brodeur's mind, it's a chance to defend his crown as the league's go-to goaltender. A two-time Cup winner, Brodeur cemented his reputation as a big-game goalie with a gold-medal performance at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
So far in the playoffs, Brodeur owns a 12-5 record with a 1.62 goals-against average, a .937 save percentage and four shutouts. Amazingly, he might have to better those numbers against the Ducks.
Brodeur expects an intense battle.
"I think there will be a lot of pressure on (Giguere) and a lot of pressure on me," Brodeur said, just minutes after clinching the Eastern Conference crown with a 3-2 win in Ottawa. "I'm looking forward to the challenge."
Playing for the defensive-minded Devils, Brodeur is only recently receiving the proper credit for his accomplishments. This season, he's nominated for both the Vezina and Hart trophies. He's a favorite to win the Vezina for the first time in his career.
Since arriving in the NHL in 1993, Brodeur's calling card has been the timely save. There was no better evidence of this then his series-saving stop on the Senators' Marian Hossa with approximately five minutes left in Friday's decisive game.
On the play, the Devils got a little sloppy around the net. A loose puck came free in the slot. Then, suddenly, so did the dangerous Hossa.
"I just reacted," Brodeur said. "I saw Hossa was coming to the loose puck, so I went down on my side and I got a piece of it with my arm. Then, I was able to keep the puck in front of me."
At the time, the score was tied at 2. If Hossa scored for the Senators, it might have been "goodbye finals, hello golf course" for the Devils.
In the previous series against the Lightning, Brodeur made a similar stop on Martin St. Louis. In that case during the third period of Game 2, the Devils were down by a goal with about 10 minutes left in regulation. If the Lightning got a two-goal lead, they would have been in a great position to steal a road game and make an early inroad in the series.
On the play, St. Louis stole the puck in the neutral zone and broke in cleanly from the blue line. A lefty shot, St. Louis deked and tried to go to his backhand. Brodeur followed St. Louis across the crease. On his backhand, St. Louis tried to lift the puck over Brodeur's shoulder and into the top of the net, but Brodeur was able to smother the chance.
Two minutes later, Grant Marshall scored to tie the game and the Devils went on win the game in overtime. Again, if Brodeur didn't make the timely stop, the Devils might have been in a much different position.
But, as usual -- as he's done throughout his amazing career -- Brodeur was able to come up with the critical save.
If he comes up with enough of them against the Ducks, Brodeur could get a third Stanley Cup ring.
And, who knows, maybe even a spot on David Letterman.
E.J. Hradek writes hockey for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at email@example.com.
|A familiar scene: Devils goalie Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens celebrate another East title.||