I think we should all refer to Martin Brodeur the same way ESPN’s venerable John Buccigross did on Saturday night. “Marty, Marty, the one-man party.”
After eclipsing a third consecutive 40-win season in Colorado on Saturday (his seventh overall), the game was more of a celebration of his career than a rematch of the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals. This wasn’t due to the fact that Colorado lacked an offensive punch, but rather due to how Brodeur shut them down. Some of his saves in that game were downright eerie, as he sensed the puck rather than saw it with his own eyes and made numerous acrobatic moves like Dominik Hasek hopped up on caffeine.
Brodeur’s best save came early in the third period when he pulled off a perfect two-pad slide and used the handle of his stick to keep the puck from passing the goal line after it was chipped over his pad.
“I knew it was there, but I can’t get there,” he said to reporters after the game. “In desperation, I threw my stick back and got lucky.”
Lucky, sure, but he put himself in position to make that save and he sensed the puck on the goal line, which is more than any other goalie could do. Simply put, Brodeur is the Peter Forsberg of goaltenders. He slows down the game and all of the plays around his crease. His masterful stick handling and passing vouches for his domination of the position, his awareness is uncanny and his style – albeit the old school classic half-butterfly – is graceful and pure. He automatically makes everyone around him so much better and he can ignite a fire in his teammates and lead them to the top of the Eastern Conference at any given moment. More importantly, he’s always smiling and having fun.
It looks like when his career is all said and done, the ultimate argument will be who was better, Brodeur or Patrick Roy? They both won Stanley Cups and they both won over 500 games. But that’s a discussion for a later date. Right now, only one team can stop him from winning the East, and that looks to be the Montreal Canadiens.
Home is Where the Heart is for Halak
Many expected the Canadiens’ rookie goalie tandem to play well but that their lack of experience would hold them back when it came time for the playoffs. Well, both have been playing great, but nobody expected them to play this well. Now they are out to prove that not even the pressure of the playoffs will slow them down.
Jaroslav Halak pitched a shutout in a 3-0 victory over the New York Islanders on Saturday by making 30 saves, picking up where he left off last year. I’m referring to a streak at home where he went 7-0 and collected two shutouts in that stretch.
Carey Price may have dropped an 0-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators just a few days prior, but he’s playing well in his current 3-3 stretch and he’s not allowing the losses to drop his confidence level or faze him. Plus don’t forget his last win was a 4-0 shutout against Marty, Marty the one-man party.
It’s always interesting to see how a young superstar comes back from a lengthy injury and responds to adversity. Fleury faced an even tougher challenge than most goalies put in this position, mainly due to the fact he’s a former first-round draft pick and a resurgent Ty Conklin was in his way of playing more.
But Fleury has responded with some great play and it’s not because he’s well rested, totally healthy or has quicker feet. It’s his actual positioning. It may not be noticeable at a quick glance or even over the course of a game, but look really close when a faceoff is in his zone and you will notice that Fleury has narrowed his stance. He’s standing up a little taller in his crease. What does this do for a young goaltender?
It gives him more strength and power to move laterally either while on his skates or down in his butterfly. It also allows him to be more efficient while pushing side to side, which improves his positioning and keeps him from having to scramble back into position. This is just another step in the refining process of Fleury’s game, and it’s only going to result in better performances.
Giguere to Sweat A Lot More
Chris Pronger’s suspension doesn’t only put a kink in the Western Conference standings; it also puts a lot of extra pressure on J.S. Giguere. Although he still has Scott Neidermayer and Mathieu Schneider in front of him, lacking Pronger’s presence on the ice for the remainder of the regular season will make Giguere, who has a history of dehydration, sweat just a little bit more.
The final ten games of the season will be a much more tiring stretch for the goalie, but whether or not it will affect his stamina in the long run remains to be seen. But now there’s a variable injected into the Ducks’ run for a second straight Stanley Cup and how they handle the loss of Pronger will ultimately become a result of how well Giguere can handle the rising number of scoring chances.
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