For most of the first period of NHL hockey in Newark, Martin Brodeur was backed into his own net, a flurry of Flyers shots heading his way. Nine of them would come in all, and nine of them he would turn away, surviving two Philadelphia power plays along the way.
As he gloved, poked and stretched his way around his goal, there was very little action at the other end of the ice, where the Devils' offense had yet to get going. Yet Brodeur and the Devils somehow escaped the first period with a two-goal lead, a serendipitous start to a lockout-shortened season that, for New Jersey, feels like it's off on the right skate.
"He kept us in the first period," coach Pete DeBoer said. "What can you say? He looks like he's 20 years old out there, the energy. He was fantastic."
Twenty-four saves later and with a 3-0 win, Brodeur had finished off the 120th shutout of his career, a personal-best 10th against the Flyers.
"We got a couple of breaks, but they were the much better team in the first period. We knew they were going to come out desperate and they did. [Marty] gave us a chance to find our legs and find our game," DeBoer said.
For teams across this truncated NHL season, there is precious little time for tinkering and experimenting. Teams need to find their legs right away. Constant talk of momentum, pace and urgency as necessary ingredients for success in a compressed 48-game regular-season schedule must mean the Devils are officially out of the gate with a jolt, right?
They're 2-0, the flailing conference rival Flyers are 0-3, and their veteran goaltender is in midseason form, despite not playing a game since the Stanley Cup ouster last June. While Brodeur stopped shot after first-period shot, the Devils scored in the opening and closing minutes of the period, which combined with Ilya Kovalchuk's second-period penalty shot, was more than enough to overcome the sloppy, disjointed Flyers.
"It's a good start. There's a lot of good signs in our hockey club to make us believe that [it can last], but again, when you hit that confidence zone, that's when it's dangerous," Brodeur said. "I would say our trust factor is there right away. It's going to be a tough year, but it's a good start."
Martin Brodeur and the Devils looking good
Bergen Record | Jan 23