Brodeur's Stadium Series story does not have a fairy tale ending
His appearance 24 hours later in the NHL Stadium Series at Yankee Stadium didn't quite have the storybook ending he was hoping for.
Brodeur was pulled after allowing six goals on 21 shots through two periods, a victim of a surging Rangers attack and porous Devils defense. It was the first time all season the Devils were forced to make an in-game goaltending change.
"We didn't help him out much," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of the goalie switch. "[After the second period], I had a conversation with him and we both agreed, and it was actually his comment, that how about give [Cory Schneider] the experience of a period in this environment. It wasn't working for him or our group the way it was. So I give him credit for that. It made sense too."
Brodeur, the league's all-time leader in wins and the holder of over a dozen other NHL records, has four Vezina Trophies and three Stanley Cups. But one thing he still doesn't have is a win in the great outdoors.
"We lost the game, that's the bottom line," Brodeur said. "It was a great event for the fans and players to be a part of it, but we're here to win hockey games and play well. We didn't today."
The Rangers jumped Brodeur for five goals in a span of nearly 23 minutes spanning the first and second periods. Marc Staal got the barrage started with a goal at 16:59 of the first period before Mats Zuccarello added a pair of second-period tallies. Carl Hagelin and Rick Nash ended the goal parade, with the last goal of the second coming with 18.5 seconds left.
"We stopped playing our hockey in the second period," said Jaromir Jagr, who had two assists. "We gave them so many two-on-one's and three-on-two's, we were pinching at the wrong time, we didn't have a third guy back, they changed the game in the second period."
"I'd like to blame it on the snow," DeBoer said. "That would give me a reason why. We did come out ready to play. I thought we had a really good first period, and I think we fell into a little bit of a trap because it was five goals scored in the first. We started to open it up a little bit in the second looking for another three goals, and that's not our game. They made us pay."
When the Devils returned to the ice for the third period, it was Schneider leading them out. Brodeur sat on the Devils bench, wearing a winter hat in temperatures hovering in the low-to-mid-20's in the Bronx.
"You rely a lot on instinct, noise, and stuff like that," Brodeur said. "Had zero feeling. Couldn't close my glove, couldn't catch a puck, everything was frozen, the puck hits you, it's tough. When it hits you, it's fine. When it doesn't, not as fine."
"You know what other goalies go through mentally when things go against you," said Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist, who improved to 25-9-6 all-time in 40 career meetings against Brodeur. "It was a tough game for him to play."
Sure was. And because it was, what could have been a celebration of a soon-to-retire legend turned into an afternoon to forget for the 41-year-old who's spent his entire 21-year career in New Jersey.
"Besides playing the game of hockey, it was unbelievable," Brodeur said. "I had a blast. Playing in this building - during the national anthem - everything about it was tremendous. The NHL did what they do to set up games like that. The game of hockey was not fun."