Martin Brodeur had a very good game against the New York Islanders in the season opener on Saturday. In tonight's home opener against the Second Rate Rivals, he was even better. He needed to be right away. The New Jersey Devils got an early goal, literally chased the game in their end of the rink for most of the next 18 minutes, and then got a good bounce late to make it 2-0. In between, Martin Brodeur was the reason why the Philadelphia Flyers failed to equalize on any of their nine shots on net and many more attempts. Brodeur was the controller, ensuring most of the rebounds from Flyers' shots sailed away from danger. Brodeur was denier of Scott Hartnell on not just one, not two, but three pretty good shots. Brodeur was resolute as the skaters in front of him struggled mightily at times to get stops and to do more than dump-and-change outside of their own zone. The Devils were the second best team on the ice for a majority of the first period; enough to question whether they were really any match for the Flyers. Brodeur was the answer. Even when Brodeur made a poor clearance, he bailed himself out with a nifty glove save. That's the level of performance he was at this evening.
In other words, the Devils were pretty awful in the first period and Brodeur succeeded at keeping his team ahead. Your only other positives were Travis Zajac stopping a Bryce Salvador shot right in front of Ilya Bryzgalov and curling around the keeper for an easy score and David Clarkson's wraparound attempt going off Ruslan Fedotenko's skate and into the net on the Devils' first power play. It was Flyers hockey all in between, but they could not crack Brodeur.
As time went on, the Devils remained, well, pretty sloppy. Many passes went astray and their own defensive coverage was spotty. However, Brodeur remained solid as a diamond and the Flyers' own performance faded. In retrospect, they were really getting frustrated and not handling it well. The Devils took two penalties in the first half of the second period. The Flyers not only did not score - obviously - but they gave up a penalty shot that Ilya Kovalchuk converted and shortly thereafter handed Patrik Elias a shorthanded one-on-one with Bryzgalov. About halfway through the second, the Flyers began their parade to the penalty box after physics forced David Clarkson to hit a Flyer just after the puck went out of play. The ensuing beef resulted in matching minors for four players; but it set the tone for that special kind of Philadelphia discipline. Wayne Simmonds struck Martin Brodeur after a whistle, he paid a price, and he ended up taking three minors for it. After that, the Flyers bench got tagged for abuse of officials (read: someone said some nasty words to the ref, possibly about his mom too). Not that the Devils did a lot with the power plays the Flyers were suddenly handing them, but it allowed them to get more offense and force the Flyers back. Suddenly, the Devils weren't heavily outshot, Brodeur didn't have to stand on his head for minutes at a time, and the game seemed more even. The 3-0 lead helped.
Martin Brodeur Earns Shutout #120
In Lou We Trust | Jan 24