Brodeur not thinking records

MIKE ZEISBERGER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

NEWARK, N.J. -- Watch out, Patrick Roy.

You too, Terry Sawchuk fans.

After a four-month hiatus because of injury, Martin Brodeur's assault on the National Hockey League record book resumes tonight.

At least that's the way the outside world might look at it.

Not Brodeur.

For the time being, he couldn't care less that he is just seven victories shy of equalling Roy's career mark for goaltenders' victories with 551.

Or about the fact that he needs just five shutouts to match the late great Sawchuk's total of 103.

While he covets being able to eclipse those legendary milestones one day, Brodeur has some more pressing issues on his plate right now.

Like shedding the rust that comes with missing 50 consecutive games.

And like regaining the form that might lead his New Jersey Devils to their fourth Cup.

Brodeur will take a step toward those goals when he returns to the Devils net tonight for the first time since Nov. 1, a night in which he tore biceps in his left arm during a game against the Atlanta Thrashers.

PUSHED TO SIDE

"The records have been pushed to the side a bit," Brodeur said. "I've always said they will come when they come. There will be time for records.

"This is about the playoffs. It's about getting myself ready to lead this team deep into a post-season. The regular season really doesn't matter that much."

Usually that would be the case.

But tonight, what would normally be just a regular February tilt against the Colorado Avalanche at the Prudential Center, will carry much more meaning. All eyes will be on Brodeur, who will be attempting to prove that he is just as good as ever.

Ironically, when the injury first occurred, Brodeur wondered what all the fuss was about.

It was early November and the three-time Stanley Cup champion was en route to having his ailing left arm checked out by medical officials. Having hurt himself against the Thrashers, he did not feel this would be a long-term issue.

Why would it be? There was not really a lot of pain involved. Surely he would be fine in a matter of days.

"I drove myself to the hospital, Brodeur recalled. "I was changing the gears with the stick shift with one hand. It didn't seem to be a big deal."

He was wrong.

Brodeur would discover that for himself hours later when a medical official approached him with his test results.

"When I saw the guy's face, I knew it wasn't good," Brodeur said.

The prognosis: A torn biceps in his left arm. The result: Brodeur would require surgery, leaving him out of action for almost four long, excruciating months.

"It definitely was a shock," he said. "Up until this season, I had missed only 15 games in my entire career for health reasons."

This time, he would miss 50, all in one clump.

But now, Brodeur, 36, is back.

In order to make room for him on the roster, the Devils sent former Marlie Scott Clemmensen to Lowell of the American Hockey League. Clemmensen surprised the hockey world by going 25-13-1 with a 2.39 average in Brodeur's absence, but waiver issues made him the odd man out, with Kevin Weekes remaining as the backup.

When asked how his arm felt, Brodeur lifted it up and began flapping it, wanting to show a visiting Toronto columnist that all was good.

While the arm seems fine, it's his gut that might feel a bit weird.

"Darn right I will be nervous leading up to the game," he admitted. "I've never experienced something like this in the middle of a year. I think, for me, it will be like the first game of the season."

It's nice to know that even legends-in-the-making get butterflies too.


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