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NASHVILLE — It took goaltender Martin Brodeur 60 weird-looking minutes in a St. Louis Blues uniform in a 4-3 loss to Nashville to realize the Devils legend was no longer in New Jersey.
“We have skilled players and they make plays. It’s so different,” Brodeur said — probably slightly jabbing his former team. “I played in an organization that we were pretty limited in skill so we got the puck moving north all the time and didn’t really make plays. These guys, they’re talented, they’re making plays. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes we make mistakes. But I’m really happy with the way the boys played in front of me.”
Maybe it was Brodeur’s subtle way of saying "I’m in a better spot than you guys … haha."
He's probably right, since the uber-talented Blues have the NHL's hottest young star in Vladimir Tarasenko and a bevy of talent up and down the lineup.
Whatever the point, Brodeur looked well … like the same goalie we saw a year ago that had a 2.51 goals against average and .901 save percentage. He made 20 stops on 24 Nashville shots on goal in the loss.
Nobody in the Blues locker room said any of the goals were Brodeur’s fault — and none really looked like they were to the eyeball test. But when his team needed a save, he looked a little leaky.
“Marty was fine,” said coach Ken Hitchcock, who generally isn’t talkative after losses anyway.
Then again, it was hard to expect a ton out of Brodeur, playing in his first game of the season after signing a contract with St. Louis on Tuesday.
About 50 seconds into the contest, Nashville forward Colin Wilson broke in on a partial breakaway, went to his backhand, but Brodeur had him all the way, making a save.
Sadly for Brodeur, the NHL’s all-time leader in wins, this wasn’t a precursor to a shutout. It was par for the course of what we’ve seen out of the 42-year-old since he entered his fourth decade.
Make a big save, give up a marginal goal that a younger Marty probably would have stopped, then mix it in with another big save.
“It was a different feeling for me today. I haven’t played in a long time, coming into a new organization, different players, different team, coaching staff, so not sure what to expect,” Brodeur said. “I did it for so long with the same people over and over again, but I’m glad it’s over and I got it under my belt and we can stop talking about it and just play hockey.”
The first goal Brodeur allowed could have been construed as his fault. He left a juicy rebound off a Mike Ribeiro shot in front of the net for an open Filip Forsberg. Then again, Forsberg wasn’t tied up by a Blues defender. Also, the play was caused by a Blues turnover.
The second squirmed through Brodeur on an Eric Nystrom one-timer in the high slot off a feed from Ribeiro.
“Any time a goal goes through you it’s never a fun goal to allow,” Brodeur said.
The third? Brodeur didn’t have a chance on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play from Forsberg to Neal to Ribeiro.
The fourth goal he allowed, a breakaway score by Wilson again, couldn’t be necessarily seen as Marty’s ‘fault’ exactly. But in a one-goal game (it was 3-2 Nashville at the time), it’s a save his team needs to make.
“He definitely kept us in it, and gave us a chance to win,” Blues forward Jaden Schwartz said. “Just a couple of mistakes – leaving guys open in our D zone, and we really had no chance on a few of those. So not his fault at all. We have to clean those up a little bit and make sure we have to bear down on our chances.”
Then again, Brodeur is not being asked to be a savior for the Blues. Heck, he’s not even being asked to be a starter really. He’s just needs to keep the team in games. And as an older athlete, even when the skills start to go, that competitiveness sticks around.
Brodeur showed that Thursday by simply not allowing the Central Division leading Predators to run away with the game and let it get out of hand. Early in the third period, Nashville broke in on a 3-on-1, and Brodeur made a save on Predators forward Taylor Beck. It was a stop the tired Blues, who had played the night before against Chicago, needed at the time.
“I felt pretty good. It’s like anything. Everything was new,” Brodeur said. “I did a lot of work right from the get-go too, so that kind of helped to get me in the game. I felt pretty good, but it’s about getting that result, it’s about making that one save in the third, the breakaway got away from me there that could have made the difference.”
And as for the oddity of seeing the living legend in Blues gear … even he felt it.
“In warmups when I came out and saw the color of the jerseys it was weird to look at,” Brodeur said. “But that went away pretty quick.”
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