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The Lightning acknowledges the accomplishments of Martin Brodeur. But it doesn't want to become preoccupied with the Devils goaltender.
By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published April 10, 2007
[Times photo: Dirk Shadd]
Vincent Lecavalier battles while working in front of the net against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.
TAMPA - Why the heck do you want to talk so much about Martin Brodeur?
That was the reaction of some Lightning players Monday when asked about the Devils goaltender.
They gave Brodeur respect, called him "great" and talked about skills such as his stick-handling, which makes him almost a third defenseman. Still, some seemed as if they would rather be taking a puck off the head.
"We're not going to sit here and talk about him every day," center Brad Richards said. "We know he's great. We know what he brings to the table. With all respect to him in the world, to sit here and wrack our brains over it is counterproductive."
Richards is correct in one sense. Thinking too much about what Brodeur has accomplished in the playoffs can give an opponent, at least, a headache and, at worst, an inferiority complex.
The 34-year-old Montreal native is third all-time with 153 games and 89 victories. His 21 shutouts are two behind leader Patrick Roy, and since 1995, Brodeur and New Jersey have won three Stanley Cups.
Brodeur also just finished one of his best regular seasons with a league-high 12 shutouts and league-record 48 wins.
But the Lightning under coach John Tortorella thrives on turning inward, not worrying about opponents.
So keep in context the thoughts of Lightning right wing Marty St. Louis, who said, "I don't want to sit here just talking about Brodeur, to be honest."
But there is so much to talk about.
"You know what he does a lot? He likes to direct a lot of his rebounds," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "He's thinking, 'I'm going to try to kick it out to my defensemen.' He'll kick them out to the blue line if he has to."
Boyle said shooting a hair sooner or later than Brodeur anticipates could "surprise him."
But where to shoot?
"With him, there seems like there's room, but he takes it away," Boyle said. "He'll show you the glove side and then, boom, it's gone."
"He's very unpredictable," center Vinny Lecavalier said. "You don't know if he's going to go down or stay up. You hope if you go high, it's when he's going down. He's hard to read."
"Shots, lots of shots," Boyle said. "You have to play the percentages. You know he's going to stop most of them, so you want to take as many as possible."
"Puck on net, traffic, rebounds," St. Louis said. "Make his job tough."
The Lightning did that this season, going 3-1 against Brodeur and winning both games at Continental Airlines Arena, where the series begins on Thursday.
"They're a team that is well-coached and is going to be well-prepared," Brodeur said. "They have weapons and a support cast. They've got a lot of character players, and they're physical against us.
"It's a tough matchup."
For the Lightning, too.
"We know him," St. Louis said of Brodeur. "We respect him, but you can't fear him."
"He's a great goalie," Lecavalier said, "but he can be beat like anybody else."