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Brodeur Is Hoping He Can Block It Out

He gives up three goals in first 16 minutes and is pulled with 11:23 to play. Afterward, he says he has no choice but to look ahead to Game 7.

June 08, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

Before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday night, with the New Jersey Devils poised to close out the Mighty Ducks, goaltender Martin Brodeur of the Devils was asked what made it so difficult to win the clincher.

Because the Cup is close enough to touch, he explained.

"There's a lot of emotion involved, a lot of excitement," he said, "and you have to be ready to cope with all that and not forget what you have to do on the ice."

But in a 5-2 loss, faulty Devil memories were exposed, the Duck victory making necessary a decisive Game 7 on Monday night at East Rutherford, N.J.

But now the Devils must forget.

Forget that Brodeur gave up five goals in an opportunity-squandering defeat before being pulled in favor of backup Corey Schwab with 11:23 to play.

Forget that two years ago, after holding a 3-2 lead in the finals, they were torched in Game 6 by the Colorado Avalanche and lost again in Game 7.

"You have no choice," said Brodeur, who is 4-3 in Game 7 appearances after winning three of his last four. "You fly all day and get yourself ready for Game 7, try to forget this as quickly as possible. It's a great opportunity to go out and play for the Stanley Cup in Game 7, so you forget about this."

For Brodeur, there wasn't much about Game 6 that he'd like to remember.

He and the Devils were all but defeated before the end of the first period, the goaltender having given up three goals in the first 16 minutes.

Still, when asked later to assess his game, Brodeur said, "I thought I played OK, but what are you going to do sometimes? Two pucks went off my defensemen, one hit the post and the guy [who scored] was right in the crease with me to get the rebound. These are things that happen.

"You can't over-judge yourself."

Not when it's easier simply to forget and move forward.

Two years ago, Brodeur said it took him all summer to erase the disappointment of blowing a three-games-to-two lead against the Avalanche.

Maybe he still hasn't.

"It's not easy," he said. "It's a Game 7, you lose an opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. You don't have too many opportunities to win a Stanley Cup."

The Devils had one Saturday. But Brodeur, eight times his teammates' choice as the club's most valuable player, wasn't even playing at game's end.

His early departure, the goaltender said, was his choice.

"I think it was a good thing for Corey to get some time," he said. "Who knows if he's ever going to get back here to the finals?

"And for me, there's nothing to gain by staying in there."

The damage had been done.

Brodeur said the Devils, dominant in a 6-3 victory in Game 5, were "out of control" defensively, skating around the ice without structure.

He called Saturday's game "a mirror of the game we played" in Game 5, the Ducks repeatedly beating the Devils to the puck and dishing out much of the punishment.

But, "It's one game they got to us offensively," Brodeur said. "We scored eight goals, they scored eight goals the last two games, so let's move on."

Forget this one, he repeated. That's what he planned to do.

"You don't get too many chances in your career to play Game 7s," he said. "This is our second [in the finals] in three years, so this is definitely an exciting time, but it's only going to be exciting if we come through this time."

That, he won't forget.

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