Martin Brodeur

Done with Devils? Brodeur ‘definitely’ going to free agency

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Big news out of New Jersey on Friday as face of the franchise and surefire Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur has announced he’s going to hit free agency.

“I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m definitely going to be available July 1,” Brodeur told ESPN.com. “I want to play one more season and I want to see what’s out there.”

The news comes on the same day New Jersey’s other goalie, Cory Schneider, said he wanted assurances he’d be the clear-cut No. 1 for the Devils after splitting games with Brodeur this year.

Schneider also holds some leverage, given he’s an unrestricted free agent following this season.

“It’s a discussion about if they want me to be the guy going forward, we have to figure out that part of it,” Schneider said, per the Star-Ledger. “I’m probably 50 or 75 games short of where I would have liked to be as far as career games-played. That’s a result of splitting the time in goal in Vancouver as well as last year.

“I was hoping to step into that (No. 1 role) maybe a little earlier.”

Brodeur, 42, has spent his entire 23-year career with the Devils, winning three Stanley Cups and four Vezina Trophies. He’s also the NHL’s all-time leader in games played, wins and shutouts.

In light of all that, it’ll be very interesting to see who takes a chance on Brodeur this summer — or, if someone takes a chance. Brodeur hasn’t ruled out a return to the Devils entirely, but feels the club needs to move forward with Schneider and his presence in New Jersey could make that difficult. As for other teams, Brodeur said he’d accept a No. 2 gig on a team “that has a really good chance to win a Stanley Cup,” and didn’t rule out the possibility of challenging for a starting job elsewhere.

“If I go for a No. 1 job, it’s going to depend on the situation,” he explained. “I think there are teams that can use me.”

Worth noting that teams could be leery of bringing Brodeur on as a No. 2. His presence might make the starter’s life much more difficult, in the sense of fans/media calling for a switch in goal at the first sign of the No. 1 struggling. (This is a variant of the always-popular “put in the backup QB” shout, which is often followed by the “oh, that’s why he’s the backup” shout.)

Regardless, the Brodeur-going-to-market narrative will be a fun one to monitor over the next three weeks.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.