It’s hard to think this may be the final time Martin Brodeur plays for the Devils, but if it were … goodness, the indignity.
With 6:35 gone by in the second period on Monday night, Brodeur fell over his own feet as the puck trickled through his legs and over the goal line, boos reigning down from those scattered about Prudential Center as the Hall of Famer to be and career Devil laid on his back and stared toward the rafters.
Coach Pete DeBoer summoned Brodeur to the bench in favor of Cory Schneider, who finished off a 6-3 win over the utterly hapless Panthers, aided by the first career hat trick from Travis Zajac.
Yet the legacy of the 41-year-old Brodeur is continuing to be sullied as it nears its end, which comes in step with the end of his current contract.
For the record, the final shot that beat Brodeur in this one was a long slow number from Dylan Olsen, deflected in the high slot by Brandon Pirri, a goal that allowed Florida to cut the lead to 4-3. It was the third goal Brodeur had allowed on nine shots, not exactly the material of the guy sitting atop the league record books for both wins and shutouts.
And now with the Devils (32-28-15) still dreaming mistily about the playoffs — just three points out of the final wild-card spot with seven games to play and three teams to leapfrog — it certainly won’t be with complete confidence that DeBoer goes back to Brodeur.
The plan in place was for Schneider to start Tuesday night in Buffalo, after which the Devils still have an outrageous two more back-to-backs lying ahead on the schedule. It’s likely Brodeur will see at least one of those starts, also aided by the fact the only remaining game against a team currently in playoff position is the season finale against the first-place Bruins, who by then will probably be worried more about rest than results.
It seemed for a while as if Brodeur were going to roll in this one, but after a 3-1 first-period lead, the Panthers (27-41-8) pushed back in the second. First came a goal from Brad Boyes just 50 seconds in, making it 3-2, which was quickly negated by Ryane Clowe just over two minutes later, making it 4-2.
Clowe left the game late in the second after being knocked woozy from a hit into the boards by Quinton Howden. Clowe has a history of concussions and didn’t play at all in the third.