Is this Martin Brodeur’s final season?

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Asking the question “is this Marty Brodeur’s final year?” isn’t something most Devils fans want to even think about. But that doesn’t mean the netminder hasn’t been thinking about it himself. The truth is that Brodeur has been saying for a while that he was going to play out his current contract and make a decision on his future after the deal expired. Newsflash: that six-year deal that he signed before the 2006-07 deal only has a single year on it. It’s time for the Devils faithful to face that uncomfortable reality—the Brodeur era in New Jersey is eventually going to end.

By no means has Brodeur announced anything specifically about his future plans. He has, however, publically acknowledged that retirement is something he considers nowadays. On the first day of training camp for the Devils, Brodeur spoke to Tom Gulitti of the Fire and Ice blog about his future:

“It’s been a few years that I know it’s going to happen eventually. Now, it’s the last year of the contract, so we’ll see. But it doesn’t change my approach at all mentally about anything. You just go through it and you have different feelings about different things and I’m looking forward to playing and having fun this year and we’ll see.”

(snip)

“Whenever I’m going to be ready to make a decision, I’ll make a decision,” he said. “It doesn’t mean it’s going to be now. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be in the middle of the season. It doesn’t mean it’s going to be at the end. I’ll listen to everything, but it’s going to be what I’m at peace with when the time comes. I could be the one asking them. Who knows? I’ll see how the season is going to go and how I’m going to feel and how everything pans out.”

Apparently, Brodeur has already started doing his due diligence on the retirement front. Over and over, we hear about guys who voluntarily step away from the game—only to miss the competition and camaraderie once they’re on the outside looking in. Brodeur revealed that he’s asking around make sure he isn’t in the same boat when he finally retires.

“I’ve talked to a lot of guys that retired just to see how it feels because I know I’m coming close to it, so I want to make sure I make the right decision and won’t regret it either,” he explained. “I don’t want to jump the gun too quick then regret it a year [later].”

It’s no secret that last season was a struggle for the New Jersey Devils and the legendary netminder was no exception. His 2.45 goals against average as 14th in the league; but his mediocre .903 save percentage was 35th in the NHL. Those aren’t the type of numbers that people have come to expect in Newark and it’s certainly not what people expect from a goaltender that is playing on a $31.5 million contract.

Here’s the part of the situation that has the potential to get messy. What if Brodeur decides that he wants to come back for another year even though his game continues to slip this season? There’s no way his numbers last season warranted a $5.3 million cap hit. But after all Brodeur has given to the organization, would they be obligated to keep him around as long as he wants to play? After all, it’s not like the Devils have a budding superstar waiting for his chance.

That’s a question Lou Lamoriello and the Devils won’t have to worry about for at least seven more months. Who knows? Maybe Brodeur will make the decision for them.

Ducks cement Pacific lead as Getzlaf continues his mammoth March

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By the end of Sunday night, the Anaheim Ducks removed all doubt: they’re on top of the Pacific Division.

Now, it’s not the sort of substantial lead that the sliding San Jose Sharks squandered; Anaheim merely leads the Sharks and Edmonton Oilers by two standings points after beating the New York Rangers 6-3.

With everyone at 75 games played, it’s kind of nice to enjoy the clarity that comes with a clear lead (though the Sharks and Oilers will disagree):

Pacific top four (all teams with 75 games played)

1. Ducks – 93 points (38 ROW, 41 W)
2. Sharks – 91 poitns (40 ROW, 42 W)
3. Oilers – 91 points (37 ROW, 41 W)

Flames – 88 points (38 ROW, 42 W)

The Ducks are now on a four-game winning streak and managed an 8-1-1 mark in their last 10 contests.

With all due respect to Patrick Eaves‘ two goals, it’s Ryan Getzlaf who’s really playing outstanding hockey. He generated four assists in this one, giving him eight helpers in his past four games. He now has a whopping 20 points in March.

A lot going on – fight included – between Corey Perry, Brendan Smith (Video)

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If there’s one thing that’s undeniable from the clip going on, it’s that Corey Perry and Brendan Smith squeezed a lot of activity (carnage?) into a single shift.

Early on in Sunday’s New York Rangers – Anaheim Ducks game, both player delivered hits that were at least borderline dangerous. After that, they traded punches in a pretty solid fight (especially since they seemed a little tired because, again, this was a fairly elaborate sequence).

It’s way too messy a sequence to call neat, but there is something efficient about trading hits and then getting into a fight. That’s a mini-hockey feud in short order.

If you want a pretty moment to counteract all that, check out the great puck movement on this 3-on-1 goal for the Rangers:

Penguins lose to Flyers and lose another key player to injury

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PITTSBURGH — Even with a ridiculously long injured list that would be the foundation of a pretty good hockey team, the Pittsburgh Penguins still found a way to go 8-1-3 in their previous 12 games entering Sunday’s contest against the Philadelphia Flyers.

The injuries finally seemed to start catching up to them on Sunday in a 6-2 loss, extending their current losing streak to three games, matching their season long.

While the loss certainly impacts their pursuit of the top spot in the Metropolitan Division (they remain three points back of the Washington Capitals), and even their quest for home ice advantage in the first round, it is still not the worst thing to come out of Sunday’s game.

The worst thing for them would be the fact the Penguins lost yet another key player to an injury when forward Conor Sheary had to leave the game mid-way through the first period.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said after the game that Sheary is dealing with a lower body injury and that right now he is considered to be day-to-day. It was initially believed that Sheary was injured blocking a shot, but Sullivan insisted that was not the case and that it happened in the offensive zone at some point in the first period.

With Jake Guentzel still sidelined due a concussion he suffered in a recent game against the Buffalo Sabres, that means two-thirds of the team’s recently assembled top line (Sidney Crosby-Sheary-Guentzel) is now sidelined due to injury. Sheary’s injury is especially concerning given how good he has been on Crosby’s wing dating back to the 2016 playoffs. Entering play on Sunday Sheary was averaging nearly a point per game (50 points in 54 games) with almost all of that production coming at even-strength.

They had yet another scare in the third period on Sunday when defenseman Brian Dumoulin had to briefly leave the game and head to the locker room after he was elbowed in the side of the head by Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

On Sunday, all of the injuries finally seemed to be too much with the Flyers pretty much dominating the game over the final two periods.

The Flyers received goals from six different players (Jordan Weal, Valtteri Filppula, Dale Weise, Jakob Voracek, Radko Gudas and Shayne Gostisbehere) in the win and outshot the Penguins by a 24-15 margin over the final 40 minutes.

“That wasn’t a good effort and at this point of the season we can’t afford to have those,” said Penguins forward Matt Cullen after the game. “I don’t think that was a typical effort for us. I don’t think we had a lot of life, to be honest.”

Even more than winning games the rest of the way the biggest concern for the Penguins has to be getting their list of injured players healthy and finding a way to avoid adding to it, something that has proven to be difficult in recent weeks.

At this point, whether they win the Metropolitan Division or not, they know their path through the Eastern Conference playoffs is very likely going to have to go through both Washington and Columbus, and they are going to need their full complement of players to do it.

One of the biggest factors in winning a Stanley Cup is having all of your key players in the lineup come playoff time.

A year ago the Penguins did.

Right now they are not even close to having that.

Video: Dumoulin shakes off elbow, Sheary out day-to-day for Penguins

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Barring a major comeback, the Pittsburgh Penguins look like they’re going to lose to the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Their injury losses might be just as big.

On the bright side, it seems like Brian Dumoulin was able to shake off an elbow from Wayne Simmonds. You can watch the hit, which didn’t draw a penalty, in the video above.

Meanwhile, Conor Sheary has been missing since the first period with what might be a lower-body injury.

The Penguins’ list of injuries is already pretty ridiculous, so if one or both of these players miss significant time, tonight will sting deeper than a setback on the scoreboard.

Update after the Penguins’ loss: Seemingly good news, if very early and vague: