NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur and the Devils clearly didn't have any interest in dramatic flair. With the storybook stuff out of the way, the Devils' focus was not on providing column fodder for the packed press upstairs. They wanted the win, as quickly, efficiently and mercilessly as possible.
The result was a 3-2 win over the Blackhawks that pushed Brodeur over the top of Patrick Roy. It was Brodeur's 552nd career win, the most of any goaltender in NHL history.
There weren't many blanks to fill after the game's opening minutes, a span in which the Devils dominated, staked themselves to a 2-0 lead, and never looked back. It took just a hair over six minutes to build that cushion and make clear that, for emotional and practical reasons, they didn't want Brodeur to go another day having to wonder when he'd reach the mountaintop.
They were determined.
While Brodeur will obviously and rightfully get all of the attention tonight, he didn't have to be anywhere near perfect. The Devils back-checked with authority, cleared pucks from the slot constantly, and relegated the Blackhawks to low-percentage shots. Brodeur responded when he had to, but that wasn't very often. The score might indicate otherwise, but the Blackhawks were never really in the game.
That's what makes the win perhaps most fitting. For the last 15 years, Brodeur has benefitted from a team that has emphasized defense over all else. That's led to detractors marginalizing his impact on a New Jersey bunch that will make its 12th-straight playoff appearance this year (three of which resulting in championships), but 552 wins are 552 wins, whether you have to stand on your head to get them or not. That he's gotten them (in less games played than Roy, with a season-and-a-half missed to labor troubles) is a remarkable feat regardless of the teams which have played in front of him.
So we can mark this one down as a true "team win," a Devils trademark. While the headlines will tout No. 30's greatness, you can bet that Brodeur appreciates the effort from his teammates. And by the way they've played in front of him since returning from injury, a nine-game stretch in which they've gone a near-dominant 8-1 to expedite the record-breaking process, you can tell they appreciate him too.
They're a team, in the truest sense of the word. A team with the greatest goaltender in NHL history, that is.
Martin Brodeur Wins No. 552 in Classic Devils Style originally appeared on NHL FanHouse on Tue, 17 Mar 2009 21:30:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.