The highly anticipated return of arguably the best goaltender in NHL history did anything but disappoint Thursday night as Martin Brodeur returned to the ice in style leading the New Jersey Devils to a 4-0 shutout victory.
Brodeur looked sharp as usual as he turned aside all 24 Colorado Avalanche shots sent his way. He barely showed any rust as he was quick from post to post, handled the puck as good as ever, and was mentally sharp as well. Marty might not have had to make any remarkable breathtaking saves, but it was great to see him back there as the last line of defense making it look easy. Brodeur’s 545 career wins are 6 short of Patrick Roy’s record of 551 wins, and Marty’s 99th regular season shutout is just 4 short of Terry Sawchuk’s record of 103 regular season shutouts. Two huge milestones that Marty definitely has his sights set on and that he is extremely close to eclipsing.
The Devils were obviously sparked by Marty’s return, as they had some extra motivation to make this comeback a complete success. The captain Jaime Langenbrunner scored early to give the Devils the lead, and the Devs never looked back from that point on. It was nice to see Jay Pandolfo back on the ice, as he was working as hard as ever, as New Jersey was skating hard and hustling to every loose puck. Patrick Elias doubled the lead to 2-0 midway through the 2nd period on the power play. This finally ended the recent power play struggles and unorganized man advantage play that was being displayed by the Devils that night. Zach Parise put the game out of reach midway through the 3rd period with a highlight reel goal, giving him 36 on the year. He outskated the defender and bodied him off beautifully as he was able to roof his shot skillfully. Travis Zajac added goal number four with three minutes to play on a nice rebound. But the icing wasn’t completely on the cake till the shutout was complete, and Martin Brodeur came out to acknowledge the crowd’s appreciation as the number 1 star of the night.
But with the good news comes some disappointing news too. Scott Clemmenson was sent down to the minors because of Brodeur’s return and the front office’s decision to keep Kevin Weekes as the backup. This news though expected still hurts, as you have to feel for Clemmer who did a tremendous job at filling in for Marty while he was injured. Clemmenson will get what he is due at seasons end, as he is sure to be a highly coveted goaltender during free agency.
Martin Brodeur looks to continue his winning ways this weekend when the Devils invite the Florida panthers and hated rival Philadelphia Flyers to The Prudential Center. It will be interesting to see if Marty gets the start in both of these contests, as it is almost certain he will play Sunday vs. the division rival Flyers. New Jersey currently sits at 3rd in the Eastern Conference and 1st in the division with 81 points.