Devils' Brodeur is an ageless wonder

Posted: March 13, 2014

CLAUDE GIROUX remembers his first goal against Martin Brodeur as a little different than the 113 others he has scored in his 398-game NHL career.

The date was Dec. 12, 2009 - part of his first full season in the league - and he used a power-play pass from one future Hall of Famer, Chris Pronger, to beat another in Brodeur.

"I think I was a little bit more proud," Giroux said. "He is one of the best goalies I've ever played."

Giroux and the rest of the Flyers are running out of chances to beat him again.

With little fanfare or interest, last night might have marked Brodeur's final career game against the Flyers - or at least his last game against the Flyers in a Devils uniform.

Brodeur, 41, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer after 21 consecutive seasons with the Devils. Reports circulated at last week's trade deadline that Brodeur was finally willing to accept a trade out of New Jersey if Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello saw fit, since his patience has worn thin splitting games with newcomer Cory Schneider.

Alas, with the Devils still alive in the playoff hunt, Brodeur was not dealt. And he was in net against the Flyers, making his second straight start ahead of heir-apparent Schneider, and making 30 saves in the Devils' 2-1 victory.

Perhaps there was so little buzz about Brodeur's last possible game in Philadelphia because few believe the fiery competitor will actually walk away from the game this summer. Or, he's just been that much of a thorn in the Flyers' side over the years that few fans or players would be sad to see him go.

"We always get up for the challenge," said coach Craig Berube, who also played against Brodeur. "I think it's a great challenge playing one of the best of all time."

Last night's was Brodeur's 92nd career appearance against the Flyers. He now is 50-31-10, with more wins against the Flyers than any team except the Islanders (51). His 12 shutouts against the Flyers are his most against any NHL team.

Brodeur was always the centerpiece of New Jersey's dull-to-watch, defense-first style that produced three Stanley Cups and five trips to the Stanley Cup finals.

It's easy now, given the Flyers' current rivalry with Pittsburgh or even the Rangers, to forget a time when New Jersey was their most-hated rival.

Brodeur twice beat the Flyers (1995 and 2000) in the Eastern Conference finals on the way to Stanley Cup rings. Who can forget when he cut the Flyers' hearts out in 2000, as the Devils erased a 3-1 series deficit and Scott Stevens KO'd Eric Lindros? Brodeur let in just one goal in each of the final three games of the series.

Brodeur, a four-time Vezina Trophy winner, is the NHL all-time leader in wins (686), shutouts (124), saves (28,620), and minutes played (73,691).

His longevity has been ridiculously impressive for such a physically and mentally demanding position. In 2012, he beat the Flyers in the second round of the playoffs on the way to yet another Cup finals run, allowing just 11 goals in five games.

Brodeur was the idol of many Quebec natives, and those like Vinny Lecavalier or Giroux entered the league dreaming of scoring against him.

"He's still rock solid in net," Giroux said. "I'm sure he could play a couple more years. We'll see what happens."

OT changes

On the second day of the NHL general managers' meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., the idea of extending overtime an additional 4 or 5 minutes at three-on-three lost traction. Statistics show that no goals have been scored this season in the 10 minutes played under those circumstances.

A formal proposal, however, is expected to be recommended to the competition committee for a minor change that would force teams to switch nets after the third period to make for a "long" line change for each team.

The fact that there are few changes coming is music to many of the Flyers' ears.

"Why do we make these changes all the time? I don't get it," Kimmo Timonen said. "I feel like we keep changing the game every year and I don't know why. Why change it? Who's complaining? I'm sure there are a lot of teams complaining and they probably don't get the point or whatever. The game has to end some time."

Cap swing

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly admitted to reporters that next season's salary cap will be slightly dependent on the fluctuation of the Canadian dollar. Instead of the projected $71 million, as told to GMs in November, the salary cap could come in below $70 million.

"It's probably not as large an effect as people might think," Daly said. "I'm speculating, to a certain extent, but I don't think it has an effect of more than $1 million to $2 million, tops."

Late scratch

The Flyers used one of their four post-trade-deadline call-ups on forward Chris VandeVelde yesterday. At first, the timing of VandeVelde's arrival seemed strange, before the Flyers announced Zac Rinaldo would miss last night's game with an upper-body injury.

VandeVelde, 26, made it to Wells Fargo Center in time to be inserted into the lineup for his 18th game this season. Craig Berube opted to use VandeVelde instead of tough guy Jay Rosehill, who played against Toronto last Saturday.


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