Goaltender Martin Brodeur's true value may soon become scarily evident - and not just because he's a masked man that plays for the Devils, and today is Halloween.
When Brodeur left last Wednesday's game against Tampa Bay after twisting his right knee, the Lightning scored on two of their first three shots against replacement Scott Clemmensen en route to a 6-3 win. The goals weren't necessarily Clemmensen's fault, but a healthy Brodeur stops them both. (Brodeur, in fact, made two mind-blowing saves against Tampa before going down, stoning Vinny Lecavalier and Rob DiMaio. Save-of-the-year materialÂ…)
Too mature to be a rookie, the 28-year-old Clemmensen was selected 215th overall by New Jersey in 1997, and has been biding his time in the minors ever since. (He had six NHL games to his credit entering 2005-06.) In two starts following the loss to Tampa, Clemmensen beat Buffalo 3-2 and downed Boston 5-4 in a shootout.
In those games, Brodeur was not in uniform for the Devils for the first time since April, 1998.
Listed day-to-day, Brodeur should be back within a week.
Unlikely end to an unlikely streak
Stay-at-home Columbus defenseman Adam Foote scoring a shorthanded overtime goal to snap the Nashville Predators' season-opening eight-game winning streak.
Let's just say, it's unlikely that anything more unlikely will occur in the NHL season.
Weekly Shot at the Shootout
Saw my first live shootout (after witnessing four on TV), when Toronto beat Boston last Monday. More accurately, when Eddie Belfour beat Boston last Monday.
The visiting Bruins outshot the Leafs 53-32, but could do no better than a 4-4 tie after regulation and overtime. Eric Lindros beat Andrew Raycroft on the first shot with a backhander, and nobody else scored.
And, it should be said, Air Canada Centre was absolutely bananas during the overtime and shootout, with even the corporate crowd in the pricey lower bowl up on their feet, roaring and chanting Â“EDDIE! EDDIE!Â” It had to be one of the top-five loudest moments in ACC history. Not including rock 'n' roll shows or truck pulls.
For a moment last week, Toronto defenseman Bryan McCabe was tied for the NHL scoring lead with Jaromir Jagr.
A two-point game against Boston last Monday gave McCabe three goals and 15 points in nine games.
Scoreless the rest of the week, McCabe sank out of the league's top 10. But his 15 points still tied L.A.'s Lubomir Visnovsky for highest-scoring D-man. (In third place was Colorado's John-Michael Liles, who had 14 points in 11 games while averaging 19:11 in ice time. Every other top-20 defender played at least 22 minutes per game, usually around 25.)
It's a Goalie's Life
Smaller gloves mean more goals against, and looser rules mean more collisions in the crease.
Meanwhile, defensemen are virtually powerless to clear the crease (unless they take a penalty), leaving goalies to try to see through bodies and perform other acts of illusion and magic.
In 2003-04, only four teams had a goals-against average over 3.00. This season, 16 teams are over 3.00.
This one's worth saving, too: in 2003-04, four teams had a save percentage below .900. This season, 19 teams are below .900.
Michael Peca, Pocket Picker?
TSN play-by-play man Chris Cuthbert, calling the action between Edmonton and Colorado last week: Â“His pocket's picked by PecaÂ…he's got Peca in his pocket!Â”
With one goal in 12 games, the Oilers should be picking Peca's pocket.
Hall of Fame
The induction of Cam Neely, deceased Russian star Valeri Kharlamov and former Hockey Canada boss Murray Costello is next Monday.
Neely is an interesting choice, as a power forward goal machine who was betrayed by his body (and, perhaps, by those Ulf Samuelsson knee-on-knee hits).
Neely ranks 78th all-time with 395 goals in 726 games. His goals-per-game rate, though, is 10th all-time. And you know what that rate is? It's .544. If that looks familiar, it's because Maurice Richard retired as the all-time goal leader with 544.
Question: Where does Ottawa's Brian McGrattan sleep?
Answer: Wherever he wants.
When McGrattan, who had 49 fighting majors and 551 penalty minutes in the AHL last season, dropped Toronto's Tie Domi with an over-the-top nose-buster on Saturday, you could see the Battle of Ontario start to tilt back in Ottawa's direction.
Of course, the 8-0 road victory probably bolstered the Senators' self-esteem as well.