Martin Brodeur will be in goal tonight in what is usually an instant victory for the netminder and his team when they face the Habs in New Jersey. Tonight is somewhat of a milestone for Brodeur who will face Montreal, the very city he grew up in, for the 50th time in his career. The 34-year-old has a life time record of 32-21-5 against the Canadiens. Seven of his 90 shutouts have also come against the Montreal Canadiens.
A further look at Brodeur’s success reveals some more stingy stats. In the 49 games he has played versus Les Habitants, Brodeur has a save percentage of .933 and a goals against average of 1.74.
Brodeur has continued his dominance over the Habs this season, winning all three games the two teams have played. Montreal has only solved the Devil’s goalie twice over those 3 games, and the team was shutout January 7th in a 3-0 loss. Meanwhile, Brodeur’s .975 SV% and 0.65 GAA against the Habs this season is simply insult to injury.
With three Stanley Cups and a Gold Medal from the 2002 Winter Olympics, Brodeur has shown that he can win big games. You can be sure that he considers tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens to be an important one, so expect him to have a big game.
In 54 games this season, Brodeur is 34-15-5. It is the 11th consecutive year that he has registered 30 wins or more, and should pass the 40 win mark for the sixth time in his career. Brodeur has also registered an outstanding number of shutouts this season with 10, and there is still time to add to that total. His 2.07 GAA is first in the league while his .926 SV% ranks third among goaltenders. His 34 wins are also a league high.
The Montreal Canadiens are in need of goals, so running into Martin Brodeur isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered. Montreal dropped a 1-0 game last night to Florida and another goaltender who has had success against the Habs, Ed Belfour. Cristobal Huet was in net for the Habs and made some stellar saves to keep them in the game. However his 24 saves weren’t enough for the win as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester pinched in and lifted a goal over Huet who was down on the ice after a goalmouth scramble.
New Jersey is coming off a lose of their own. The Devils dropped a 4-1 contest to the climbing Tampa Bay Lightning. Scott Gomez scored the lone goal for New Jersey while Vincent Lecavalier helped lead the way to Tampa’s win with a goal and two assists. The loss ended the team’s four-game winning streak.
Speaking of four, last night’s loss was Montreal’s forth straight. The loss combined with a Carolina win dropped Montreal into 8th place in the Eastern Conference with both the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islands only a couple of points behind.
To say that tonight’s game is important would be an understatement. The Habs need every point they can get over their final 24 games if they plan on making it to the post season. They’ll need their top players to step up their game, though.
The line of Saku Koivu, Christopher Higgins, and Michael Ryder that was so hot at the beginning of the season has not been the same since Higgins went down with an ankle injury in Montreal’s first game against the Devils this season. Higgins has not registered a single point in his last 13 outings; meanwhile over the last 14 matches, Koivu only has three points and Ryder five. The three combine for a disgusting -50 plus/minus on the season. It’s no wonder that Coach Guy Carbonneau has separated him on several occasions recently.