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Langenbrunner Speaks Softly, Carries Big Stick

Ever modest, the Devil winger refuses to call himself a go-to guy, but his coach does after two key goals in Game 5.

June 06, 2003|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J — EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Modesty in a hockey player?

Oh really.

(Though goalies are excluded from the conversation). A modest hockey player is almost redundant. Then there's the one about looking up the word in the dictionary and finding the NHL logo.

If you didn't know much about Devil winger Jamie Langenbrunner, it would seem he was pulling off a deadpan performance after his two-goal performance in New Jersey's 6-3 victory over the Ducks in Game 5 on Thursday in the Stanley Cup finals.

This question was put to him:

"Jamie, why do you think you have been able to produce so many goals in these playoffs when some other offensive players have stumbled?" Langenbrunner: "Because I'm not an offensive player." Surely, the man who moved into the lead on the NHL playoff points and goals list, passing Minnesota's Marian Gaborik, was kidding, showing off a subtle sense of humor.

Not.

The forward with 11 goals and 18 points has the mentality of a checker, and the finishing skills of a genuine goal scorer. These numbers have not erased the mental training of the mind-set that Dallas put into his head before sending him to the Devils in the Jason Arnott deal at the trade deadline in 2002.

But if he wasn't willing to use the word offensive, the man behind the bench had no problem doing so, impressed by his flash of offense in a span of less than eight minutes in the third period.

"Jamie's like that," New Jersey Coach Pat Burns said. "He's a guy we forget for a couple of games. I see things from him, but on the score sheet we don't see things.

"All of a sudden, he'll catch on fire and get a couple of breaks and put them away. He's been our, a lot of times in these playoffs, our go-to offensive guy."

Langenbrunner was summoned to the official postgame news conference for the first time in the finals. There's a certain symmetry: The Devils are within one game of winning the Cup, in part, because of his two goals Thursday and, going back, his two in Game 7 against Ottawa.

Still, he talked in team terms.

"I think our team has kept it simple all playoffs," Langenbrunner said. "I have been given a lot of opportunities to play with some great players in some key situations.

"I've been able to find a few bounces. Why? I don't know. It's just my time, I guess. Sometimes it goes in. Sometimes it doesn't. Right now I just feel confident. I feel like I'm eventually going to score even when it's not going well."

But that's not cocky. The Devils may have absorbed something on their last trip to Anaheim, losing twice, Langenbrunner suggested afterward.

"We learned our lesson the hard way," Langenbrunner said.

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