Tocchet: Brodeur's the best
Whether it's good or bad, the Lightning will not face Devils goalie Martin Brodeur tonight at the Prudential Center. New Jersey coach Brent Sutter said it was unfair to Brodeur to make him play on the same night he is being honored for becoming the NHL's all-time winningest goalie. You know, he might be distracted and all, though it seems like as good an excuse as any to give Brodeur the night off after six straight losses.
That begs the question is he the greatest of all time given his 553 wins, three Stanley Cups and 100 shutouts? It was a good question for Lightning coach Rick Tocchet, who regularly faced Brodeur in his NHL career, especially when he was with the Flyers and who coached Patrick Roy as an assistant with the Avalanche.
"Just because I played more against Brodeur, I say Brodeur," Tocchet said. "But you can't go wrong with either of those guys, such competitors."
The next question, then:is Brodeur just a product of New Jersey's defensive style, or would he have flourished anywhere?
"As any player in any system, you morph yourself into that system," Tocchet said. "They're a good defensive team. They relied on Marty for the first shot and he stopped it. It's not so far-fetched from what I want to do here. I want the goalie to worry about the first shot, that angle, and not worry about back door, and I think that's what Jersey is so good at. I don't want a goalie flippin' and floppin'. You play your angles right and let the team clean up all the crap around you. He's incredible at that. He stops the puck but he's not out of the net. He's on top of the puck for the second shot. There's a rebound, but he's not in the other corner."
So how do you beat him?
"You tried to bother him," Tocchet said. "When I was in Philly, you get in his face a little bit and fall on him. You weren't always going to beat him, so you had to work on the other parts; not stupid stuff, but a lot of wraparounds, deflection goals. That's how you have to beat him. Very rarely are you going to take a 30-foot slap shot and beat him."
Other stuff from today: Former Lightning Kevin Weekes starts in goal for the Devils. Karri Ramo is expected to get the start for Tampa Bay. ... Defenseman Richard Petiot is out with a bruised left shoulder. He fell on the shoulder during a fight Tuesday in Boston. ... Defenseman Matt Smaby (lower body) will play as will forward Paul Szczechura, who has missed five games with a leg injury. ... With center Vinny Lecavalier out after Friday's wrist surgery, the lines got a bit of a shakeup. No telling if this is how they will start the game, but during the morning skate, Jeff Halpern centered for Vinny Prospal and Evgeny Artyukhin; Ryan Craig centered for Adam Hall and Brandon Bochenski; Szczechura centered for Matt Pettinger and Martins Karsums; and Steven Stamkos centered for Marty St. Louis and Ryan Malone. ... Left wing David Koci will be the sixth defenseman. ... The lack of depth on the blue line does not bode well for tonight. New Jersey has lost six straight and is desperate to right itself going into the playoffs. It makes sense they are going to throw everything they can at Tampa Bay. ... Funny line from Prospal. In a discussion about the crazy number of injuries endured by the Lightning, he was asked how the heck he survived. He looked down and said, "The season isn't over yet."