With his 37th birthday approaching on May 6, Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur knows he won't many more shots at a Stanley Cup.
That's why he wants to make the most of the chance he has this season. His teammates played very well during the 50 games he missed with a torn biceps tendon, going 32-17-1 to take over first place in the Atlantic Division.
Now, he believes he can add something to the mix and the best way he can do that is to be at the top of his game by the time the playoffs begin.
"You look at the situation that you're in," Brodeur said today. "You walk into this locker room and you're like, 'These guys have played pretty well.' We went out and beat some great teams at cricital times in the season and there's a good opportunity here. For me, it's kind of a driving point for me to get to where I need to be to support that cast and go as far as we can."
Brodeur worked hard last summer to get in better condition and try to redeem himself for what he admits was a disappointing performance in the five-game loss to the Rangers in the first round of the playoffs last spring.
"I'm came into this season with the frame of mind before I got hurt (on Nov. 1) to play well," Brodeur said. "It was definitely a disappointing season (in 2007-08). Even though I won a Vezina the year before, I think you always judge it by if I excel in the playoffs and I don't think that I played extremely well in the playoffs. So I just wanted to come back this season and do well and then my injury happened.
"So, now I'm trying to get back to where I was when I left and then have a good run in the playoffs. The years are going by, but they ain't coming back on me either. So, it's important that I take every opportunity I can right now until I stop playing as seriously as I can and make the best out of them. There's not many left. There will be a lot more than people think maybe, but definitely the bulk is in the past."
Brodeur got off to a good start with a 24-save shutout and a 4-0 win in his first game back on Thursday night against Colorado.
"It definitely exceeded expectations," he said. "I just wanted to win. To throw a shutout in there regardless of how many shots, how many chances they got was pretty nice to do. They're not easy to come by in this new league. I was just happy with the way I felt, the way my arm felt, the response from everybody. You've been doing it for so long, it was kind of nice to get back."
Although Thursday's game went well, Brodeur says he still has work to do, beginning with the second start of his comeback Saturday against the Florida Panthers.
"This is one step," he said. "It was a great night, but I have to find this rhythm and play and play and get there so that being a goalie in the NHL becomes second nature to me. I've got to get to that. I don't think I'm there, yet.
"You had a shutout. Well, all right. We’ll see what Florida will bring as far a workload and then playing the puck, different options, tighter games. If my team is going to score four goals, it gives me a good chance to win hockey games.”
will bring as far a workload and then playing the puck, different options, tighter games. If my team is going to score four goals, it gives me a good chance to win hockey games.”