The first thing that came to mind when news broke Martin Brodeur left Thursday’s game with a shoulder injury was the 12-year-old chest protector that the New Jersey Devils’ living legend insisted during a conversation with InGoal Magazine last season would retire with him.
As it turns out, the latest in a steady run of late-career injuries for the once sturdy goalie had nothing to do with taking a shot off an area left exposed by that ancient piece of equipment. In fact, Brodeur actually upgraded his chest-and-arm protection last week after tiring of the patchwork required to fill the gaps in his old one, and is now using a pro return Reebok from Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. (Look for a detailed breakdown on the subtle but significant modernization of Brodeur’s equipment in the first issue of the new InGoal digital magazine, coming in early November).
Ironically, Nashville is where the Devils head next on their road trip, and Brodeur, who missed 76 games the last two seasons with a torn biceps tendon and a bruised elbow and MCL sprain, expects to be there, saying the injury he suffered when he landed on his right shoulder making this diving blocker save was not serious:
“It hurt. Trust me. My arm was fully extended. I just fell on it,” said Brodeur, who received medical attention with 7:57 left in the first period, but stayed in until it was over. “I took my equipment off in the room and that was a little tricky. It’s swollen a little bit in the shoulder. It should be fine. It’s a matter of a couple of days to get the swelling down. Doctors don’t feel there is anything serious about this injury. I’ve tweaked that shoulder lots of times.”
With Brodeur out, Johan Hedberg came in for the second period, shook off the nerves and made 16 saves through overtime before adding two more to win a shootout over the Kings. The likeable veteran, who told InGoal early in the summer he was genuinely worried about finding a job this season, woke this morning atop the NHL statistics page with a 1.14 goals-against average and tied for fourth with a .952 save percentage during his two victories so far this season.
“Right away it feels like an adrenalin kick,” Hedberg told New Jersey Star Ledger and NJ.com beat reporter Rich Chere (@Ledger_NJDevils on twitter) about seeing Brodeur hurt. “You get a little nervous and the adrenalin creeps as I get focused.”
Kiprusoff tops Flames’ all-time win list
Miikka Kiprusoff became Calgary’s all-time wins leader with 35 saves in a 4-1 victory over Montreal on Thursday, passing Mike Vernon with his 263rd “W” in a Flames sweater in 43 fewer appearances.
The milestone may have seemed inevitable the last few seasons, but it sent Kiprusoff down memory lane to 2003, when he was toiling in a three-goalie system with the San Jose Sharks and wondering if he even had a future in the NHL. One trade (for a conditional draft pick, which seems hard to believe now) and eight seasons later, Kiprusoff is a part of Flames history.
“I always believe everything happens for a reason,” said Kiprusoff, who also knows Vernon well as the San Jose starter when the Finn first came to North America. “I had some tough times there in San Jose, but the Flames and (former Sharks and Flames coach) Darryl (Sutter) wanted me here, they gave me a chance. It was great for me.”
Thursday’s win, which came at the expense of Carey Price seeking his 100th career victory in Montreal’s home opener, was also a big one for Kiprusoff this season. After being top-3 in the league in games played ever since his first full season in Calgary in 2005-06 – playing in a whopping 444 of 492 games, or 90.2 per cent – the Flames are determined to rest their workhorse more this season, with chatter head coach Brent Sutter believes backup Henrik Karlsson can be a No.1
That may simply be part of a plan to push the stoic, sometimes hard-to-read Kiprusoff to be even better. After all, the Flames also fired his hand-picked goalie coach, former backup Jamie McLennan last summer in favour of Clint Malarchuk, and made Kiprusoff come off the bench halfway through a preseason game, which is unheard of for a No.1 with his tenure.
Whatever the case this season, Kiprusoff’s place atop Calgary’s record book is secure for a long time to come.
One-timers from around the World (Wide Web) of goaltending:
~ Antti Niemi continues to skate hard after his pre-season was cut short by surgery to remove cysts, but according to the San Jose Mercury News it doesn’t sound like the Finnish stopper is 100 per cent, which makes him unlikely to start Friday. With Antero Niittymaki out the first three months after hip surgery, that means Thomas Greiss will continue to start for the Sharks. As for Niemi, coach Todd McLellan told The Mercury News, “He’s looking better every day — not only physically, but his game, too.”
~ The New York Islanders confirmed what was strongly suspected in Thursday’s update – that oft-injured Rick Dipietro suffered a concussion from Brian Rolston’s high, hard blast, and is out indefinitely. That story has been updated to reflect the diagnosis, and social media has predictably exploded with cheap shots at Dipietro due largely to his injury history and a huge, long term contract that has nine years and $45-million remaining. But as much as Dipietro put himself at risk by coming back so soon with plates in his face last season and a risky helmet-cage combo to protect them, don’t overlook the fact he came back because he wanted so badly to contribute as the Islanders were starting to turn a corner. You can question the judgement behind that, especially if the face was fully healed now, but don’t question his heart or skill.