Thursday January 29th, 2015

Off The Draw

With Martin Brodeur making his retirement as a player official today, now’s the perfect time to look back on some of the unforgettable moments from his standout career. It’s tough to narrow the list down to just 10, but these are our favorites. Miss one of yours? Leave it in the comments below.

10. “Fatso there forgot to shake my hand.”

The rivalry between Brodeur and Rangers pest Sean Avery was never more entertaining than during the 2008 playoffs. Avery had a solid series, scoring three goals and adding two assists, but it was his “inventive” disruptive tactics—waving his arms in Brodeur’s face—that really got the goaltender’s goat. Following the Devils’ five-game series loss, Brodeur kept his arms at his sides in the handshake line, prompting a memorable retort from Avery.

Martin Brodeur got a head start on greatness: a classic SI story

9. Winning his first Vezina Trophy.

On June 12, 2003, Brodeur, who was already a three-time Stanley Cup winner, finally captured the individual honor that had eluded him during the course of his first nine full NHL seasons. He would go on to win three of the next four Vezinas to cement his standing as one of the greatest goaltenders of his generation, if not the greatest.

8. Scoring his third career goal.

Just four minutes into the first period in a March 21, 2013, game against the Hurricanes, Brodeur made a seemingly meaningless stop. But New Jersey drew a penalty on the play and Carolina goalie Dan Ellis left his net for an extra attacker. Moments later, the Hurricanes botched a pass that sailed the length of the ice and into the empty net. As the last Devils player to touch the puck, Brodeur got credit for the goal and became the second NHL netminder, after the Sharks’ Evgeni Nabokov, to be credited with a power play goal. It was the third goal of Brodeur’s career, moving him one past Ron Hextall for the all-time lead among goalies. Brodeur also had 58 assists during his career, and finished with 61 points.

7. The Scorpion Save.

It might not have been the most amazing or the most important stop of Brodeur’s career, but it might be his most memorable—a flat-on-his-belly desperation kick save on the Rangers’ Marian Gaborik in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals. Try to watch it just once.

6. Scoring a playoff goal.

Nothing cheap about this one. With New Jersey holding a 4–3 lead over the Canadiens late in Game 1 of the 1997 Eastern Conference quarterfinals, Brodeur corralled a dump-in, took aim and fired a shot the length of the ice. The puck slid into Montreal’s empty net with 44.6 seconds remaining in regulation, making Brodeur just the second netminder (Hextall was the first, in 1989) to score a goal in postseason play.

5. The 2003 playoffs.

Martin Brodeur, the goalie who doesn't flinch: a classic SI story

This might have been the finest stretch of his storied career. Over the course of 24 postseason games, Brodeur earned the maximum 16 wins to guide the Devils to their third Stanley Cup title. Amazingly, seven of his victories were shutouts, including three in the finals. The last one, which set a new league record, was the most timely—a 24-save gem in a 3–0 triumph over the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7.

4. Breaking the all-time shutout record.

Terry Sawchuk’s mark of 103 career shutouts stood unchallenged for 45 years until Brodeur erased it from the books on Dec. 21, 2009, with a 35-save effort in New Jersey’s 4–0 win over the Penguins. “When you do break records and you see how long they’ve lasted, it’s pretty cool,” he said at the time. “It’s a great honor for me to be in that position.”

Brodeur eventually padded his total with 22 more donuts, including a 3–0 shutout of the Avalanche on Dec. 29, 2014. His record of 125 could stand for another 45 years. Roberto Luongo (68) is has the most shutouts among active goalies.

3. Winning his first Stanley Cup.

This one was a shocker, and not just for the ease with which the Devils won it—they went 16–4 in the postseason—but also for how handily they defeated the heavily favored Red Wings in the 1995 Cup finals. Brodeur was splendid in the four-game sweep, never allowing more than two goals to a powerhouse Detroit team.

2. Setting the all-time wins record.

For a competitor like Brodeur, this stands as his ultimate and most meaningful legacy. Win number 552 to surpass Patrick Roy didn’t come easy, requiring a flashy pad save on Troy Brouwer with four seconds left to preserve a 3–2 victory over the Blackhawks on Mar. 17, 2009. “It was an exciting night,” Brodeur said after his 30-save effort. “I’m happy that it’s done and over with. It’s been chaotic, the last few days. It was an awesome night. It was a great reception from the fans.” He went on to win another 139 times, setting a standard that’s unlikely to be matched in his lifetime.

1. Winning Olympic gold in 2002.

Despite being a two-time Cup winner, Brodeur started the 2002 Olympic tournament on the bench as Curtis Joseph’s backup. That changed after Canada was thrashed 5–2 in the opener by Sweden. Brodeur stepped in and was magnificent the rest of the way, helping Canada end a 50-year gold-medal drought at the Winter Games. He was at his best in the finale, stopping 31 shots to backstop Canada to a 5–2 win over the U.S.

GALLERY: Martin Brodeur Through The Years

What to watch tonight

Stars at Senators (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-SW, RDS2, TSN5)

Dallas Stars in playoff bubble trouble as stretch drive begins

There’s nothing like a good homecoming, and there won’t be a bigger one this season than Jason Spezza’s first trip back to Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre on Thursday night. The flashy center spent 11 polarizing seasons with the Senators. During his time in Ottawa, he was a point-per-game player who often earned the ire of their fans for his lack of two-way effort. After demanding a trade out of town last summer, Spezza might find the reception tonight to be a bit chilly.

“[Ottawa] fans are passionate, so I hope I’m remembered as giving my all and having some success here, but I expect them to support the [Senators] too,” he said on Wednesday. “They’ve always supported the club, but hopefully they appreciate I gave everything when I was here and tried to do all I could to help us win.”

Dallas could really use some help from Spezza. After losing on Tuesday night in Montreal, the Stars have fallen six points (and five wins) off the playoff pace in the West. They’ll need a big effort from Spezza, who has one goal and six points in his last five games, to avoid falling into a deeper hole.

Sabres at Oilers (9:30 p.m. EST; MSG-B, BELL TV, SNOL)

Play our new daily fantasy hockey game!

Years from now, we may look back at this little Thursday night trifle as the most important game of the season. Call it the Integrity Bowl, a game in which everyone knows that the loser is really the winner. Buffalo is last in the NHL, meaning that the Sabres are in the Connor McDavid catbird seat, but a win tonight would move them ahead of Edmonton via the tiebreaker. An Oilers victory would them a four-point cushion that Buffalo, loser of 12 straight games in regulation, may never be able to make up. It might be lousy hockey, but it’ll also be fascinating theater.

Rest of the schedule: Bruins at Islanders (7 p.m. EST; TVA, SN360, SNO, SNP, NESN, MSG+); Canadiens at Rangers (7 p.m. EST; NBCSN, RDS, SNE, MSG); Jets at Flyers (7 p.m. EST; TSN3, CSN-PH); Coyotes at Maple Leafs (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-A, TSN4); Red Wings at Lightning (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-D+, SUN); Blue Jackets at Panthers (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-O, FS-F); Predators at Blues (8 p.m. EST; FS-TN, FS-MW); Wild at Flames (9 p.m. EST; FS-N, SNW); Ducks at Sharks (10 p.m. EST; NBCSN, SN360)

What you missed

• Alex Oveckin and the Capitals won their latest showdown with 'Sidney Crosby’s Penguins in rather convincing fashion (highlights).

• A minor league team's $1 beer night led to some spontaneous architecture.

Arizona is expected to be a seller at the March 2 trade deadline.

The numbers game

• Alex Ovechkin’s 93 career multigoal games tie the winger with Peter Bondra for Washington’s franchise mark. Among active NHL players with multigoal games, Ovi’s closest pursuers are Jarome Iginla (66), Sidney Crosby (59) and Rick Nash (53).

• Iginla needs two goals to tie Mark Recchi for 19th on the  alltime list, with 577. Iginla needs just one point to reach 1,200 for his career.

• The Kings have equaled their single season franchise mark, set in 1980–81 and tied in ’90–91, for the most points (38) earned through their first 28 games on home ice.

Hot links

Who'll get hot in the second half, the Kings' mess, more in our roundtable

• Just when you think the story of Jack Johnson and his parents couldn’t get any worse, it does.

• The Sutter family is about to gain an amazing son-in-law. If you need a pick me up after following the previous link, Dylan Tait’s story will do it.

• KHL expansion team HC Sochi is keeping hockey alive in sub-tropical Russia one year after the Winter Olympics.

• The bad news just keeps coming for TSN, which learned on Wednesday night that it had lost a bidding war for the rights to broadcast the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

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