Watching Martin Brodeur yield a boatload of soft goals through his first four games has been like watching Derek Jeter hit a succession of soft ground balls through the first half of the 2011 season.

It has been tough on the eyes difficult to absorb and more difficult to process because the mind’s eye freezes Brodeur in time as it did with Jeter.

Too old? Too slow? Professionally mortal?

Can’t be.

But maybe so.

There is no joy in watching one of the all-time great ones fight the puck. No joy in recognizing the Devils’ all-time player has reached a passage in his career in which he likely will yield his No. 1 spot to a younger man.

No joy in watching one of the great athletes who has ever represented a metropolitan area team look less than ordinary and at least for the moment be as much part of the problem as the solution.
Of course the sample size is tiny. Of course after Jeter hit .260 with an on-base percentage. of .324 through the first half of 2011 the Yankees captain hit .331 with an on-base percentage of .384 the rest of the way.

Jeter wasn’t done then wasn’t done with a league-leading 216 hits and .316 batting average as a 38-year-old the following season.

He turned back time is what Jeter did a neat trick Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello believes in his heart of hearts the 41-year-old Brodeur is capable of pulling off as well.

“Marty Brodeur is one of a kind” Lamoriello told Slap Shots on Saturday morning. “He knows who he is and how he feels. He knows his game.

“The way he deals with things and handles adversity sets him apart. The question about whether there is concern about Marty has been asked a lot the last 10 years and more frequently in recent years. My opinion right now is that it is not the case.

“I’ve dealt with him after losses his entire career. This is the person who was pulled from Game 6 of the finals and then had a shutout in Game 7” said Lamoriello referring to the 2003 series against the Ducks which the Devils won to capture their third Stanley Cup in a nine-year span.