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Blog: Slap Shots
LOS ANGELES — And so these Devils have become the first team in 67 years to avert a sweep in the Stanley Cup finals by winning a Game 4 on the road, since the 1945 Red Wings pulled off the trick against the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Now, they are heading back to Newark for Saturday’s Game 5 on the first leg of a journey that will have to cover nearly 9,000 miles if the Devils are to duplicate the feat accomplished by the 1942 Maple Leafs, and only the 1942 Maple Leafs, who came back from 3-0 down in the finals to win the Stanley Cup over Detroit.
The Devils get the chance to make modern history — the 1945 Red Wings forced the finals to a Game 7 before losing the showdown match at home — because they defeated the Kings 3-1 last night in Game 4 to spoil the party Hollywood was about to throw for itself and the NHL’s would-be Nouveau Riche.
They also get the chance to make history largely because of Martin Brodeur, the individual who has been responsible for so much of the history of this proud franchise that is in its fifth Stanley Cup finals over the last 17 playoffs, three more than anyone in the NHL except for the Red Wings, who have been to the ball six times since 1995.
It is possible to make the case that Scott Stevens was the Devils’ most important player through their run of three Cups in nine seasons beginning in 1995. But it is impossible to make the case at this point — eight years after No. 4 was forced into retirement because of the repercussions of knowingly playing with post-concussion symptoms through the trip through the 2003 tournament that culminated in the team’s last championship — that anyone other than Brodeur represents the face of the franchise.
Except as the Devils try to create more history, Brodeur isn’t caught up in any of it. Someday No. 30 will look back, but that time is not now, not by a long shot.
“I try to be in the moment,” Brodeur said after finally outdoing Jonathan Quick in a match that was scoreless for 47:56. “Every situation is different, so it’s not about looking back but taking care of what’s in front of you with these players creating their own thing.
“It’s hard while you’re playing to think of other situations. For me, it’s living in the moment, living the experience with these guys. That’s what hockey is all about—living in the moment.”
Brodeur faced 22 shots, two fewer than Quick, but the netminder made a signature save on a Simon Gagne left wing semi-breakaway with 4:50 to play in the second at zero-zero, and then went into a backflip of a somersault that forced Trevor Lewis to miss the net in alone at 4:30 of the third still at zero-zero, and then stopped Dustin Penner in with speed down the left side with 8:30 to play in the third at one-one.
“He’s the same guy he always was,” said Petr Sykora, first a Devils’ teammate of Brodeur’s in 1995. “You watch Marty from the bench and he’s always calm and never gets rattled, and that’s what makes him the best—and he is the best.”
“Under pressure he has that confidence that makes him who he is. That’s why he’s a legend.”
He is 40 and playing against Quick who grew up in Milford, Conn. as a Rangers fan and who as an 8-year-old rooted for Mike Richter against Brodeur in the 1994 Battle of the Hudson.
“I’ve tried to be perfect,” Brodeur said before Game 4. “But the other guy has been a little more perfect than me.”
Not last night, he wasn’t, and as such, the Devils and their goaltender have a shot at making more history.
Martin Brodeur, Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Stanley Cup finals, the Devils, the Devils, Devils, NHL, Stanley Cup, modern history, Larry BrooksFollow Larry