NEWARK, N.J. Martin Brodeur stood atop a podium in the Devils locker room, surrounded, of course, by a media throng. Hes been here, done this so many times, and yet his attitude always remains unflappable.
Im enjoying this ride, said Brodeur on Friday, which was also his sons birthday. Defintely, Id like to have a little more success in the finals here. Were still alive, still looking to create that success and win again.
Part of the Devils Game 4 success came because of their work at the other end, as they finally got to Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick. But it also had to do with the calm presence of the Devils own netminder.
Whether facing the media or facing an elimination game, Brodeurs demeanor seems to remain the same: stoic, steady, serene. Its a calm that resonates through the Devils locker room; and its one that his teammates feed off, especially facing a 3-1 deficit and elimination when they host the Los Angeles Kings here in Game 5 tomorrow night.
We feed off his composure, Devils coach Pete DeBoer said. He handles the puck so much, he has so many touches. He does it so effortlessly and without any panic in his game. And that has a real calming influence on our entire team. Theres very few moments when the pucks in your own end or around your net because of his composure.
No, theres no doubt that Brodeur is the master puck-handling goaltender. Veteran defenseman Bryce Salvador joked that when Brodeur does finally retire, my jobs going to be that much harder. But Brodeurs influence goes well beyond his job as the Devils third defenseman.
Everyone talks about the great games and that part of his character. But what I always see in him is the games hes not good and how he responds the next game, Salvador said. If he has a game where he shouldve had one or saved this one, the next game hes the best player. It shows how resolved his mind is; he doesnt worry about those mistakes. I think thats what defines a true winner and leader is his ability to overcome adversity and hes a guy who pulls everyone else out of it.
Yes, itll take more than Brodeur for the Devils to overcome this 3-1 deficit. And theyve got more confidence heading into Game 5, thanks to getting the bounces and that victory in Los Angeles. But having a presence like Brodeur is always a bonus, and a good presence to look to when things get tough.
Hes been there before and knows what it takes. We feel pretty comfortable with him in the net, the way he handles pucks and makes timely saves. Hes a competitor; he wants to win, said Travis Zajac, who added Brodeur will talk to teammates during intermissions, if need be. Its not often but when he does, you listen.
Brodeur has never wavered in his career. All that hes won, be it individual or team, has not quelled the competitive fire. If anything else its bolstered it. But he remains calm on the surface, in and out of the game. In both areas, its helped the Devils tremendously.
You have a guy who holds every record and has won everything and still has the passion to win at this point in his career, and if you ask him he still feels he can play next year and the year after and the year after, Salvador said. That alone is uplifting.