TORONTO -- When Scott Clemmensen was with the New Jersey Devils, he had a trademark response when asked what it was like being the backup to workhorse goalie Martin Brodeur.
“It’s like Groundhog Day over and over again,” Clemmensen would chuckle, referring to Brodeur’s penchant of playing almost every game.
Today, after all, is Groundhog Day. Of all the days you would figure Brodeur would be starting, this is it.
But he’s not.
Instead, Yann Danis, Brodeur’s current backup, will get the call when the Devils visit the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre Tuesday.
To be fair, Brodeur could use the time off. Prior to tonight’s contest, he had appeared in 40 consecutive games, including 33 consecutive starts.
The Devils' decision not to start Brodeur means fans won't get to see a goaltending rematch of the 2003 Stanley Cup final between the Devils and J-S Giguere’s Anaheim Ducks. Giguere ended up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, but it was Brodeur who led his team to the Stanley Cup.
As for this season, you have to go all the way back to the Nov. 7 tilt against the Islanders to find the previous contest in which Brodeur did not play a single minute.
Brodeur, a native of Montreal, has always loved to play in Canadian cities. With the Olympics less than two weeks away, however, perhaps Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, an assistant with Team Canada, does not want to burn out the NHL’s all-time winningest goalie.
“I could use the rest,” Brodeur said after the Devils pre-game morning skate. “I haven’t had much of a chance to do that.”
Danis is looking forward to the rare opportunity to start.
“It’s definitely been a while,” Danis said. “I’m excited. I obviously want to play and it will be nice to get back out there tonight and, hopefully, get a win.”
Danis has made four relief appearances since his last start. Over those four games, he played five periods and allowed only two goals on 47 shots. His last appearance was a week ago in Ottawa, when he stopped all six shots he faced in the third period of 3-0 loss.
“The last time I played, I played well, so I’m going to definitely use that tonight,” he said. “But it’s going to different game, obviously, 60 minutes. I’m excited to play the full game. I know I haven’t played much this year, but I’ve been doing this goalie thing for a while. Things don’t change. I’m going to approach it like any game.”