Brodeur's shutout record may stand test of time

BY foxsports • December 22, 2009

The records seem to be coming nightly for Martin Brodeur, and it's easy for his New Jersey Devils teammates to see why. They appreciate what they're watching, and they only hope the rest of the hockey world does, too.

To the Devils, Brodeur is the greatest goaltender in NHL history, a player who is achieving so much and playing so well that it might take decades for another player to come close to matching him.

Brodeur surpassed Terry Sawchuk's 40-year-old NHL record with his 104th career shutout, leading New Jersey to a 4-0 victory over Pittsburgh on Monday night and strengthening his case to be considered the best goaltender in the sport's history.

To Brodeur, that was part of the satisfaction that came during his 35-save effort: He became the best by beating the best, the NHL's reigning Stanley Cup champions.

``Surpassing a record definitely becomes a little nerve wracking,'' Brodeur said. ``I don't get nervous, but today I was a little nervous. It was a like a good playoff game, everybody was trying to get the puck out and blocking shots and definitely it was a great effort by my teammates for me to break it.''

The 37-year-old Brodeur set the coveted record only two games after setting the NHL mark for regular-season appearances by a goaltender. The shutout record came in his 1,032nd game over 16 seasons, all with New Jersey.

``Tonight was one of those special nights where you knew he was seeing the puck well and it would take a pretty good play to get to him,'' Jamie Langenbrunner said.

Didn't happen. Evgeni Malkin couldn't beat Brodeur on a short breakaway with New Jersey up 2-0 in the second, maybe the Penguins' best chance early on. Sidney Crosby came close by ringing a shot off the right post in the final minute, when Jordan Staal - back on the ice after apparently breaking his nose the period before - also had a good chance close to the net.

``It's pretty incredible. The records are piling up,'' Crosby said of Brodeur. ``He's a legendary goalie and he proves it every year.''

Given how long it took this record to be set, it's difficult to predict how long Brodeur will own it. Until he came along, no other goalie was within 10 shutouts of Sawchuk, whose final season was 1969-70. Patrick Roy is often called the best contemporary goalie - it was his games-played record that Brodeur surpassed - yet he had 38 fewer shutouts than Brodeur does.

No other current goalie ranks among the top 20 in shutouts.

``This record was held for so long, when you do break records and see how long they lasted, it's cool,'' Brodeur said. ``Tying it was amazing and surpassing him, was a great honor for me to be in that position.''

And Brodeur's not nearly done, not with New Jersey owning the NHL's best record and a 3-0 mark in Pittsburgh this season against the champions, who came in tied with the Devils for the NHL points lead. The Penguins had won five in a row.

``Marty came up big,'' Jay Pandolfo said. ``I'm sure it was in the back of his mind he wanted to get this shutout record and enjoy a few days off.''

Brodeur also came back from a rare off night. He was yanked after giving up three goals in the first period Saturday, but the Devils came back to beat Atlanta 5-4. Two off nights in a row is a bit much to ask of Brodeur.

Patrik Elias scored his fourth goal in five games and Zach Parise had three assists to support Brodeur in New Jersey's fifth consecutive victory.

``When it got down to 10 minutes, five minutes, everybody's thinking about it (the record),'' teammate Zach Parise said. ``We're on the ice when a lot of these records are happening and it's fun. ... I don't think much needs to be said. It's all self-explanatory, all the winning he's done, the shutouts, the (three Stanley) Cups. It's unbelievable.''

Much like Brodeur's career.

As the game ended, his teammates swarmed to congratulate him, and the remaining fans from the standing-room crowd of 17,132 applauded as a congratulatory message from Penguins owner Mario Lemieux was read on the public address system. They came to watch the Penguins win, but they also knew what they had just seen: Maybe the best of all time at his best.

``It's great, but I wasn't focusing on it,'' Brodeur said. ``I'm definitely happy it's passed and we can just go play, and I don't have to answer the questions about it.''

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