- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 17, 2009

STORY OF THE WEEK

Brodeur ties Roy

The best addition made before the NHL trade deadline had nothing to do with the flipping of prospects or the acquisition of a big-name veteran.

Martin Brodeur returned to the New Jersey Devils‘ goal.

Out four months with a torn triceps, the future Hall of Famer was back on the ice Feb. 26, just in time for the regular-season stretch run and a bid at the franchise’s fourth championship.

On Saturday, Brodeur made 22 saves in the Devils’ victory against Montreal, tying him with Patrick Roy for the most wins in league history (551). Brodeur, 36, can break the record Tuesday against Chicago.

“Accomplishments like this don’t come around every day, and when you talk about history and the game, it’s a pretty phenomenal thing,” Devils coach Brent Sutter said.

Since missing 50 games, Brodeur has started all eight of New Jersey’s games, compiling a 7-1 record with two shutouts. The Devils are a point ahead of the Capitals for the second spot in the Eastern Conference, which means home-ice advantage in the second round.

A three-time Stanley Cup winner, Brodeur’s record-tying win came against the team he grew up rooting for and the team his father worked for as a photographer. Twenty-three years ago, Brodeur was a regular at the old Montreal Forum when Roy won his first Cup.

Roy, who helped Colorado defeat New Jersey in the 2001 Stanley Cup Finals, was in attendance to see his record tied.

“Nothing against Montreal — I know they’re in the middle of a big race — but I think it’s a great moment in the game, and I’m sure Marty is very excited to see it happen in his hometown in front of his family,” Roy said.

With Brodeur back in goal and in top form, the Devils are going to be a tough out in the postseason.

- Ryan O’Halloran

TEAM OF THE WEEK

ATLANTA THRASHERS

Six wins in a row is usually a reason to rejoice, but is that really the case for the Atlanta Thrashers? One way to look at it is the team has finally started to play well for coach John Anderson. Kari Lehtonen has started to play like the guy who was supposed to be the next big thing in net not so long ago. Ilya Kovalchuk has been as hot as anyone, and he is also getting some help from veterans like Todd White and Slava Kozlov and also younger guys like Bryan Little and Rich Peverley.

There is a downside to this success — Atlanta is playing its way out of the best chance to land either John Tavares or Viktor Hedman in the draft this summer. The Thrashers need another marquee talent, and slipping to the No. 4 or 5 pick in the draft might not be the best thing for the franchise in the long run. That’s the problem at this time of year for clubs like the Thrashers — it can be a lose-lose situation.

POWER RANKINGS

1. Detroit Red Wings (1)

Nine straight 100-point seasons — just another measure of the greatness in Motown.

2. San Jose Sharks (2)

Travis Moen addition already paying dividends for rebounding Sharks.

3. New Jersey Devils (4)

Quickly becoming the team no one wants to play once the regular season ends.

4. Boston Bruins (3)

Losing 12 times in an 18-game span is a few too many at this stage of the season.

5. Washington Capitals (7)

Could feast on easy finishing schedule… or continue to play down to the competition.

6. Chicago Blackhawks (6)

Another potential contender is teetering; Blackhawks need Patrick Sharp back soon.

7. Philadelphia Flyers (8)

Daniel Briere and Claude Giroux together on the third line could make the Bullies scary again.

8. Pittsburgh Penguins (NR)

Having Bill Guerin and Chris Kunitz for Sidney Crosby to pass to makes this a different team.

9. Calgary Flames (5)

Olli Jokinen has 10 points in six games, but his new team is 2-4 since the deal.

10. Vancouver Canucks (9)

Nine wins in a row at home… can they catch Chicago for home ice in the first round?

TROPHY TRACKER

HART (MVP)

1. Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

Anyone betting against him getting to 60? Didn’t think so.

2. Zach Parise, Devils

Brodeur has been great, but a run at 50 goals is hard to ignore.

3. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Penguins are surging, but he and Crosby will split votes.

JACK ADAMS (coach)

1. Brent Sutter, Devils

His team has a realistic chance of chasing down the Bruins.

2. Todd McLellan, Sharks

Can we just fast-forward to the San Jose-Detroit conference final?

3. Claude Julien, Bruins

Still not completely out of a now five-week funk.

VEZINA (goalie)

1. Tim Thomas, Bruins

Will there be backlash if he plays fewer than 55 games?

2. Miikka Kiprusoff, Flames

He has won more games and made more saves than anyone.

3. Martin Brodeur, Devils

Sure, he hasn’t played enough — but no one has been better this year.

COMING ATTRACTION

NOW SHOWING

Spencer Machacek, Thrashers

Machacek was a third-round pick in 2006 and is in his first professional season after a successful run with the powerhouse Vancouver Giants in the WHL. Jokes about comparing the talent he played with there to an Ilya Kovalchuk-less Atlanta team aside, the Thrashers need a couple of guys like Machacek to develop to support players like Kovalchuk and Bryan Little.

COMING SOON

Chris DiDomenico, Maple Leafs

Only a sixth-round pick in 2007, DiDomenico could be a classic sleeper. He’s diminutive, which probably led to his fall on draft weekend, but he has been great in the QMJHL and was in the spotlight at the world juniors on Canada’s top line with John Tavares and Angelo Esposito. He signed with the Leafs this past week, but he’s probably going to need at least all of next season in the AHL.

SHOW’S OVER

Jason Arnott, Predators

Arnott’s “upper body” injury doesn’t sound serious, but head injuries can be problematic. Barry Trotz has done another fabulous job keeping Nashville in the playoff hunt. Has any team consistently overachieved compared to preseason prognostications like Trotz’s Predators since the lockout? Still, they need their top offensive player to have much hope of making the postseason.

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