The Philadelphia Flyers and Martin Brodeur's New Jersey Devils have squared off in the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Two teams that only finished one point apart in the regular season (Flyers-103 points, Devils-102 points), share a playoff history and varied story lines this spring.
The Devils top story involves their goalie, who is playing in the final season of his contract. Can this soon-to-be 40-year-old (born on May 6, 1972) stop a Flyers team that appears to have playoff momentum?
Building the resume
The issue about whether 'Marty' is the best goaltender of all-time is fully debatable and also one for another column on another day. As of now, his historic numbers are worth noting.
Selected in one of the more talent-laden drafts in NHL history, Brodeur was the Devils first round pick in 1990. He remained in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League through most of the 1991-92 season, but did appear in four games with the Devils during that season. In 1992-93, he played for the Utica Devils in the American Hockey League.
Brodeur split time with Chris Terreri during his first season in the League in 1993-94, when he won the Calder Memorial Trophy. He won his first Stanley Cup when he defeated the Detroit Red Wings in 1995, which was his first year as a full-time starter.
All these years later, one of the hockey's greatest players has three Cup championships (2000 against the Dallas Stars and 2003 over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, now known as the Anaheim Ducks), five Jennings Trophies and four Vezina Trophies listed on his digital resume. Obviously, he also leads the NHL in numerous career categories.
One more push?
Peter Laviolette's team is not facing the old Devils in this playoff round. While Peter DeBoer's team is good, they no longer set out 'The Trap' for every team to fall into.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were able to take two games from the Flyers in the last series because they had a high-powered offense. The Devils don't have that type of arsenal, but they do have a master in their crease. And it would be foolish to think that Brodeur won't continue to make his presence known during this playoff round.
As to whether that will be enough to push what could be his final playoff hopes forward is another question. With whatever the final answer is, every hardcore Flyers fan (and every other fan) should pay homage to this immortal hockey man.
Sean O'Brien is based in the Philadelphia region. He has written professionally for over two decades and is currently a Featured Contributor for Yahoo! You can follow him on Twitter @SeanyOB and also read his daily Sports Blog: Insight.
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