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Henrik vs. Marty: King in his Prime vs. Hall of Famer

Posted By Carp On May 14, 2012 @ 2:59 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL,Stanley Cup playoffs | 163 Comments

Don’t forget our Live Game 1 Chat today at 3 p.m., from the Garden. Be there.

Here’s my preview of the series, focused on the goalies, from The Journal News and LoHud.com:

(It’s the unedited version, so apologies in advance for any mistakes or typos).

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By Rick Carpiniello [1]
rcarpini@lohud.com
GREENBURGH — They’ve done this dance one before, the Rangers and the Devils at this stage of the Stanley Cup playoffs. And the one common thread is in goal for the Devils.
Martin Brodeur, now 40, was a rookie when the Rangers won that apocalyptic seven-game series on Mark Messier’s guarantee and hat trick in Game 6 and Stephane Matteau’s double-OT wrap-around against Brodeur in Game 7.
Of course, the Rangers went on to win their only Stanley Cup in the last 72 years. The Devils and Brodeur went on to win it the next year, and twice more.
Brodeur was asked Sunday, on the eve of the Rangers-Devils 2012 Eastern Conference final which begins at the Garden tonight, if that series, that goal, kept him awake at night.
“No, I grew from that,” Brodeur said. “It hurt, no doubt about that. I never hide it, that it didn’t affect me. I think I was the first one to say that was probably one of the toughest losses I ever had. But if I didn’t have that loss, maybe I wouldn’t have become who I became, or even our organization. It’s not just myself. And I think sometimes you need to hit the hurdles before you’re able to go over them pretty easily. And I think that was one of them in ‘94. But … it doesn’t keep me up at night at all.”
These Rangers have barely reached those hurdles, much less hit them or cleared them. This is their first time at this rodeo. They are here, in large part, because of Henrik Lundqvist, who is just hitting his prime at 30, but hasn’t yet scratched the surface of what Brodeur has accomplished, and will play in his first conference final.
Yet what Lundqvist has done is carve a dominance against Brodeur and the Devils. In 34 regular-season games against Brodeur, Lundqvist is 23-6-5 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .935 save percentage, plus five shutouts.
The Devils swept the Rangers (Lundqvist was 0-3) in the 2006 playoffs; he and the Rangers returned the favor in a five-game dispatch of Brodeur and the Devils in ‘08 — and all-time, the Rangers have won four of five playoffs against the Devils, three of those wins with Brodeur in goal.
Brodeur spoke Sunday as if Lundqvist is the new sherriff in town.
“Well, I mean, he’s a Vezina candidate,” Brodeur said. “He’s the one that’s been, I don’t know, he’s unbelievable. He is lately. He’s kind of the top goalie in the NHL right now, and I think I was in that position once. I played against Patrick (Roy), played against Dominik Hasek, I played against all the guys that maybe, you know, the top years in their career. But for me it’s kind of nice to be able to compete against them, regardless of what’s going to happen. I’ll do my best to match up, but it’s going to be pretty hard. He’s a pretty good goalie.”
Brodeur, though, made sure to note that such things come around and go around.
“I think (Lundqvist’s record is) because of him,” Brodeur said. “I don’t know how many times he’s shut us down and played so well. I didn’t think I played that bad. … I think circumstances — you could talk about my record against Mike Richter and we’ll probably flip-flop the stats. At one point it (was) pretty lopsided.
“So you play long enough, you can make the stats read whatever you want. And that’s something I don’t really pay attention to. Like I said, he’s a goalie at the prime of his career right now. He’s playing really well. I think he’s cherished the challenge to play against the Devils and really the only thing I could say (is) I’ll do better in the plyaoffs.”
Lundqvist talked around it, but kind of admitted that he does, indeed, cherish that challenge: Him vs. Brodeur.
“There are so many things that are making this series special,” Lundqvist said. “First of all it’s a conference final. That’s No. 1. It’s a great feeling to be there; we worked really hard to get there so it’s exciting. Then playing the Devils — you know, we face them a lot and know what to expect — but it’s a special feeling, absolutely. And then, on top of that, playing against a guy, Marty Brodeur, there’s a lot of things that make this series a little bit special I think. Everybody’s looking forward to it and we’re excited we’re there. And we’re going to do whatever we can to beat them.”
When told about Brodeur saying Lundqvist is the top guy now, he smiled.
“It’s enough pressure as it is,” he said. “I don’t have to add anything more. I can just say it’s a great challenge for me to play against him, against them.
“It’s going to be a battle, that’s for sure.”

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Illustration by Chris Brown/The Journal News.

 


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[1] Image: http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/files/2012/05/RANGERS_6.jpeg