Stanley Cup Finals Notebook
Perfect Brodeur is playing it McCool in the finalsPosted: Thursday May 29, 2003 7:36 PM
Updated: Friday May 30, 2003 2:19 AM
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) -- Martin Brodeur's perfect goaltending in the finals is turning over an old Leaf -- a Maple Leaf that is.
Not since Toronto's Frank McCool in 1945 has a goalie pitched two shutouts to open the Stanley Cup finals. McCool blanked the Detroit Red Wings in the first three games 58 years ago.
Brodeur is just one game away from matching the feat, and he's barely broken a sweat. The Anaheim Mighty Ducks have only managed to get 32 shots through on Brodeur, 16 in each 3-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
"We're winning, that is what is important," Brodeur said after his 19th playoff shutout and record-tying sixth this year. "It's all nice, and definitely when I look back and see these things when I'm retired, it will be really nice."
The only person with more playoff shutouts than Brodeur is now retired. Patrick Roy, who announced on Wednesday that his career was over, posted 23 blankings.
Brodeur is also the first goalie with consecutive shutouts in any finals games since Detroit's Terry Sawchuk did it to Montreal in Games 3 and 4 in 1952. Brodeur earned his 81st playoff victory, one more than Ken Dryden, to move into fifth place on the career list.
Ducks are hunting with blanks
Only once in the regular season were the Anaheim Mighty Ducks held to fewer than 17 shots. It's now happened three times in 16 playoff games.
Anaheim has recorded only 16 shots in each of the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals and lost both 3-0.
Dallas limited the Ducks to 15 shots in Game 6 of the second round, but didn't shut them out. New Jersey was the first to do that in the playoffs, and managed to repeat the effort.
"Our intensity isn't nearly what it was in the past," forward Steve Thomas said. "What we have to do is believe in ourselves. They're a very good hockey team and we're going to have to play a lot better to compete with them."
The Ducks' regular season-low shot total was 13 in a 1-0 victory over Minnesota on Jan. 18.
Future stars get taste of Cup finals
The presence of top NHL prospects before a Stanley Cup finals game brought back memories for some of this year's participants.
That night, a key penalty call against Los Angeles' Marty McSorley led to a Canadiens goal. It allowed Montreal to tie the series 1-1 en route to beating Wayne Gretzky and the Kings for the Cup.
"That was when McSorley got called for the illegal stick," Kariya said Thursday before Game 2. "I was a big Gretzky fan, so I was pretty disappointed with that. But it was great to see a finals game."
"I just remember meeting up with all the guys," Niedermayer said. "It just shows you how close you were to making it to the NHL. We got to meet some of the L.A. Kings, so it was pretty special."
It's an experience Eric Staal, Dustin Brown, Nathan Horton and Marc-Andre Fleury -- some of this year's top prospects -- were enjoying before Anaheim played New Jersey on Thursday night.
Staal, a center for Peterborough of the Ontario Hockey League, is the top-rated North American skater by the NHL's Central Scouting Service.
"It was good to see the guys and meet the future stars," said Devils forward Jeff Friesen, the 11th pick in 1994 by San Jose.
He went to the finals the year after Kariya and Niedermayer.
"I had a great opportunity to be flown in before Game 2 at the Rangers," Friesen said of the 1994 finals.
But something other than hockey also stuck out in his mind.
"We went to the Yankees game," Friesen said.
Stevens breaks Robinson's record
New Jersey captain Scott Stevens is as sturdy and reliable as they come.
Playing full-speed ahead, he often leaves opposing players lying in his wake wondering what hit them. Yet, through it all, Stevens manages to stay in great shape and stay on the ice.
When he played in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals Thursday night, the 39-year-old Stevens passed Larry Robinson for the most postseason games for a defenseman.
Stevens was humble after Thursday's morning skate as he prepared for 228th playoff game, the fifth most among all players.
"Passing Larry and to be mentioned in the same way as him, that's exciting," Stevens said.
Robinson, a special assignment coach with the Devils, sent Stevens a bottle of wine and a card to honor the occasion. He didn't mind losing the mark to Stevens, who played under Robinson when he coached the Devils to the 2000 Stanley Cup title.
Stevens missed only one playoff game, in 1988 with Washington. Robinson played in 227 straight.
"It's the only record I have and now I don't have that anymore," Robinson said. "It couldn't go to a more deserving person. It shows you that not only is he a great player, but that he's accomplished a lot."
Robinson's name has been mentioned lately in association with vacant coaching jobs. The latest to come calling are the Pittsburgh Penguins. Robinson said they were granted permission to talk to him by Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello, but Robinson won't talk to any teams until the playoffs are over.
"We'll wait until after and see what happens," Robinson said. "I don't want this to be any distraction, the playoffs are tough enough."
Ducks rest Kariya, Rucchin in morning skate
Anaheim forwards Paul Kariya and Steve Rucchin didn't take part in Thursday's morning skate. They rested with the blessing of Mighty Ducks coach Mike Babcock.
"That's what we've done throughout the playoffs," Babcock said. "Certain guys have been given an option, other guys haven't been."
Kariya seemed a little surprised when reporters surrounded him to make sure he was OK.
"Usually I don't take pregame skates when we skated the day before," the Ducks captain said.
The Mighty Ducks went with the same lineup in Game 2 as they did in the opener -- a 3-0 loss.
Devils don't tinker with lineup
The Devils departed from their recent trend and also fielded the same lineup for Game 2.
That meant injured forwards Joe Nieuwendyk (hip) and Turner Stevenson (groin) remained on the sidelines in favor of Jiri Bicek and Jim McKenzie. The 36-year-old Nieuwendyk hasn't skated since being limited to three shifts last Friday in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Stevenson said Monday that he was eyeing a return in Game 5. Coach Pat Burns didn't know if either player would make the trip to Anaheim for Games 3 and 4, but figured they both would.
Sign of the times
A new sign adorned the outside facade of the Continental Airlines Arena before the Devils played the Mighty Ducks on Thursday night.
For the first time since 1994, one arena is hosting both the Stanley Cup finals and the NBA Finals, and New Jersey is proud. A large poster bearing the logos of both the Devils and the New Jersey Nets now faces traffic on the New Jersey Turnpike.
"Arena of Champions. Win For New Jersey," the sign says.
The Nets are in the NBA Finals for the second straight year. The Devils are representing the NHL's Eastern Conference for the third time in four seasons.