Brodeur, Giguere carry on Roy's legacy


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- How fitting.

On the night before Patrick Roy's expected retirement announcement, his best active heir delivered a flawless performance in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals. New Jersey's Martin Brodeur looked every bit as impenetrable in a 3-0 win over Anaheim on Tuesday night as the man he always looked up to.

So enough of those who say Roy stole the spotlight on the first day of the Stanley Cup finals. Enough of those who say Roy wanted a series all about two younger goalies to be all about him. Game 1 between the Devils and Ducks proved, without a word from Roy, that this series and this sport are already all about Roy.

Set aside for a moment the fact that both goalies in the finals -- like 10 of the 28 other starters in the league -- grew up in Quebec worshipping and emulating Roy. That's far too easy and too obvious a point to make. Look closer, at each and every save attempt. Roy's legacy shone five minutes into the first period. Ducks' defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh set up Petr Sykora, who rifled a shot off the post to the left of Brodeur. That set off an odd-man rush the other way, culminating in a centering pass from Grant Marshall to Sergei Brylin, which Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere slid across the crease to stop.

What does this have to do with Roy? A lot.

Roy was the first big goalie to master the butterfly -- not as a style but as a move -- and to play both angle and percentages. That's exactly what both Brodeur and Giguere did in that sequence. Before goalie coach Francois Allaire -- now with Giguere and the Ducks -- convinced Roy to set up not as a block but as a pyramid, netminders in Brodeur's situation would have approached the shooter but stayed upright in order to move after the shot. Brodeur covered the net perfectly because he went down and reached out with his glove.

At the other end of the ice, Giguere stayed with the shooter until the pass came. Allaire taught Roy (as he teaches Giguere) to concentrate only on the first save rather than the rebound or the pass. That eliminates all the guesswork and reliance on reflexes -- something goaltenders used to be evaluated on before Allaire and Roy made goaltending a science.

And notice Giguere guessed wrong on the game's first goal, off the stick of Jeff Friesen. Giguere anticipated pass (perhaps to the onrushing Brian Gionta) instead of thinking shot, and he shifted ever so slightly as Friesen let it go.

"He made a good move, holding on to the puck a second and moving a foot to his left," Giguere said, "and he had an open space to score." In the post-Roy era, great goaltending is not about guessing right or being in "the zone" or "feeling it." It's about formula.

Let Roy's legacy be that no fan nor player nor coach nor analyst ever call a great goaltender like Brodeur or Giguere streaky or lucky or overconfident. No one ever says Brett Hull is on a roll with his slapshot or Scott Stevens is fortunate to be meeting onrushing forwards at the right place at the right time. Hull and Stevens, like Giguere and Brodeur, thrive because of method.

And enough of those who disparage Roy as arrogant. Sure he's cocky (remember 'the wink' back in '93?) but his confidence comes at least in part from the same place as Giguere's and Brodeur's: faith in the system. Giguere smiled as he answered questions about the loss. "The next game should be better by us. We should be more excited," he said after Game 1, rubbing his playoff beard as if contemplating a chess move. There was no woe because he feels none. Chefs who bake cakes sometimes turn out a dud, but they don't doubt their abilities as long as they followed the recipe. Before Allaire and Roy, there was really no recipe to follow. Now there is.

Also remember: Allaire's recipe was risky back in the '70s. A tall goaltender like Roy was putting his biggest advantage on the line by leaving the net and using the butterfly. Allaire could have preached his life away about statistics, but only when Roy's innovative style led the Canadiens to a Cup in '86 did the world start paying attention. Arrogance? Fine. But where would hockey be now without it?

Now look at the modern-day version of arrogance. Instead of throwing money at top-flight scorers and hoping to bludgeon opponents, Anaheim and New Jersey reached the finals by relying on their goaltenders to keep them in the game until a good scoring chance arises. The Ducks entered the third period with only eight shots, but no one in the Anaheim locker room panicked and screamed about the lack of chances. Eight shots? They have J.S. Giguere; they only need a few good ones. Is that arrogance? Or faith in the system?

Friesen -- who calls Giguere both "like Patty Roy" and "a lot like Marty, a young Marty" -- put it simply: "You don't think the first one will be the game-winner, but a lot of times with Marty, it turns out to be."

Ducks fans will spend the next two days fretting about how to get more shots on net and blaming Tuesday's loss on "rust."

But that's the beauty of goalies like Brodeur: they make proper technique look so effortless. It will be as easy to turn on the Ducks and Giguere in the coming days as it will be to shun Roy.

But maybe Wednesday's postgame analysis and retirement fallout should be less about blame and more about credit. "A great era is going be over tomorrow," Brodeur said after Game 1. "It'll be really hard for anyone to get close to him."

This from the man who is on pace to capture Roy's records in less time than it took Roy to break Terry Sawchuk's.

So let Patrick Roy steal the spotlight. After all, the reflected glory will land squarely on his disciples.

Eric Adelson is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine. E-mail him at eric.adelson@espn3.com.