The NHL season will finally begin on Saturday, and Martin Brodeur and the Devils need to pick up right where they left off. Brodeur will return to play for the same team that he has played for his whole career, and in his 20th season as the Devils' starting goalie, the 40-year-old still may have some gas left in the tank. However, his time is running out.
Last season, Brodeur led the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals and fell two wins short of hoisting his, and the team's, fourth Stanley Cup.
It’s no secret that one of the keys to making a deep playoff run is superb goaltending. If the Devils want to make another run, Brodeur will need to carry the team.
He won’t have the offensive support that he had last season, though. The Devils failed to re-sgin Zach Parise, Petr Sykora and Alexei Ponikarovsky, who collectively combined for 59 total goals last year.
As for defensive support, the Devils are returning eight NHL-ready blueliners from last season to assist Brodeur.
Brodeur and the Devils need to act fast though; Broduer only has one or two more years to add another Stanley Cup to his trophy case.
Following last season's Stanley Cup Finals loss, Brodeur signed a two-year, $9 million dollar contract. Rather than a one-year deal, Brodeur wanted an extra year on his contract in case a full season was forfeited, but now that a half-season will be played, Brodeur may or may not wait until his contract expires to retire.
Brodeur comes into this shortened season in a good position, he played through two lockouts already, and both times he bounced back exceptionally.
Just like this upcoming year, in the 1994-95 NHL season, the league only played 48 games. Brodeur appeared in 40 of those games en route to the Devils' first ever Stanley Cup appearance.
The Devils swept the Detroit Red Wings that year in the Cup Finals, mostly due to Brodeur’s performance. During the entire 1995 playoffs, he posted a 16-4 record with a .927 save percentage, 1.67 goals against average, and three shutouts.
Following the 2004-05 lockout, Brodeur led the league with 43 wins. Then in the 2006-07 season, he recorded 48 wins, breaking the single-season wins record. He would also win the Vezina Trophy that year, thus proving that Brodeur knows how to return to elite play quickly after facing a long work stoppage.
This season may pose a challenge though; Brodeur is 40 years old. He will not play in 40 games like he did in the 1994-95 season, and he probably won’t win the Vezina Trophy.
Broduer hasn’t played over 60 games for three years now.
This year, he once again will split time with Johan Hedberg, so when the playoffs come around, Brodeur will be well-rested and ready to make another run.
The Devils are going to need the best goalie of all time to play vintage if the team wants to hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup for the fourth time.
For all hockey news, opinions and updates Alex Bacon can be found on Twitter @abacon55.