One of the great subplots of the New Jersey Devils’ ascent back into playoff relevance is that Martin Brodeur has gotten his game back together – at least a bit.
To be honest, the Devils are probably guilty of sentimentality when it comes to their starting goalie choices. Johan Hedberg’s numbers are better across the board – far better record, superior save percentage and more shutouts in far fewer starts – but his last name isn’t “Brodeur.”
Yet as much as it seems like New Jersey’s decision making is based off of nostalgia, it’s hard for some to accept the idea that this might be Brodeur’s last season – either with the Devils or in the NHL. The future Hall of Famer is included in that group, as you can see in this Associated Press story.
“We’ll see if they’re going to take me back,” Brodeur said. “”I’m having fun. It’s been a great year so far. But I’m not 100 percent sure what I want do to yet.”
The “if they’re going to take me back” part is the key. Brodeur’s contract expires after this season, and with Zach Parise as the obvious priority to re-sign, it’s hard to fathom the legend getting anywhere near the money he’s being paid right now. With that and his declining stature in mind, the question was posed: would Brodeur play for a different team to keep it going?
Brodeur watched the Manning saga play out from afar and hoped he would never have to consider wearing another team’s sweater. How would Brodeur look in turquoise blue shoulders and black trim?
“It’s a little tricky,” Brodeur said. “The passion for the game is there. But sometimes, organizations are going to go a different way. It happened to the best quarterback in history. It could happen to anybody. It’s a possibility, but it’s unlikely, for me to really have a feeling about thinking about going somewhere else if this team still wants me around.”
Parise’s decision is the most pivotal for the Devils franchise this off-season, but one could argue that Brodeur’s future is just as fascinating – and maybe even more up in the air.
The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.
For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.
The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).
New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.
This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.
The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.
There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.
On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.
The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.
In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.
The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.
Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.
The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.
Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.
Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.
It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).
Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.
Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.
You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.
When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.
It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.
After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:
Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.
EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:
“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.
Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: