Is this the end for Devils' Martin Brodeur?

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Is this the end for Devils' Martin Brodeur?

From Comcast SportsNet
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The New Jersey Devils' dreams of a historic comeback were all but dashed less than 11 minutes into Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals. Just 10:10 in, Steve Bernier drilled Los Angeles defenseman Rob Scuderi from behind into the end boards and essentially took his club out of the game. Bernier was given a major penalty and was ejected from the game. "He turned back," Bernier said of Scuderi. "I feel very bad, but it's a fast game out there, and it ends up being a bad play. You certainly don't want to get five minutes for it. I wish I could take that play back." The Kings took full advantage of the 5-minute power play and scored three times in a span of 3:58 en route to a 6-1 victory that clinched Los Angeles' first Stanley Cup championship in the franchise's 45-year history. "It was just an unfortunate situation with a player who plays the game really hard, and he's going to have to live with that," Devils goalie Martin Brodeur said. "I don't think it's a fair thing, but that's what happens when one person has the fate of a hockey game in their hands. I talked to him and told him it's not his fault. I can't say if it was a good call or not." New Jersey trailed 3-0 after the first period and 4-1 through 40 minutes. The Devils had little left for the third period, when the Kings went into lock-down mode and added two late insurance markers. "I didn't want to hurt my team, I wanted to help them," Bernier said. "This is extremely hard. It's been a long playoff run for us. To finish on that note, it's not fun for sure. But there's nothing I can do now." The Devils were trying to become just the third team to force a Game 7 in the finals after trailing 3-0. Only the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs came all the way back to win the Cup, and New Jersey was thoroughly thwarted by the Kings in Los Angeles' third shot at the title. While it is of little consolation, New Jersey became the first team in 67 years to even get to a sixth game in the finals after falling behind 3-0. "You don't give yourself a lot of room for error," captain Zach Parise said. "We found ourselves in a pretty deep hole before we even realized that the finals started. But we didn't quit. We really felt that we could get back in it and force a Game 7." But Bernier never gave them a chance to take the series back to New Jersey. "Everybody feels bad, but he shouldn't. He's done a lot of good things for this team," right wing David Clarkson said. "There's no fingers being pointed -- at refs or anywhere else. He threw a bodycheck. I didn't think it was that bad of a play. But we dug ourselves a bit of a hole there and couldn't come out of it. It's tough to swallow." Bernier slammed Scuderi behind the Los Angeles net, driving him headfirst against the boards. The hit left Scuderi dazed and bloodied before he left the ice under his own power and headed to the dressing room. Scuderi returned to the bench, but Bernier was done for the night -- and the season. "That's what he's been doing the whole playoffs. He's been doing a great job of getting in on the forecheck and finishing checks," Parise said. "That's why he's here. That's what you want from him. "It's just unfortunate that it happened. It's not his fault." Kings captain Dustin Brown scored first at 11:03, and Jeff Carter made it 2-0 at 12:45. Just 16 seconds later, Trevor Lewis poked the puck past the 40-year-old Brodeur's glove after Dwight King's centering pass squirted through the crease. "I don't know if we were salivating when we got that power play, but we were just determined to capitalize on that opportunity," Doughty said. "We knew that this was our chance to put that team away and we did just that." Adding to the Devils' frustration was a one-timer by New Jersey's Patrik Elias that rang off the right post just 38 seconds before the first period ended. Carter made it 4-0 just 1 minutes into the second period, beating Brodeur with a wrist shot from the slot. By then, all that was left to determine was the final score. Adam Henrique cut the deficit to 4-1 with 1:15 left in the second period, but the Devils couldn't get any closer. The Devils also lost Ryan Carter and Clarkson to 10-minute misconducts that forced New Jersey to play with a diminished corps of forwards for large chunks of the game. Defenseman Bryce Salvador also served a 4-minute high-sticking penalty in the second period that didn't produce a goal, but milked important minutes off the clock. New Jersey was outdone by the Western Conference champions this time, and scored only eight goals in the six games. The Devils dropped a pair of 2-1 overtime decisions at home in the first two games, and fought uphill the rest of the way. The Devils were whistled for nine penalties that totaled 47 minutes in Game 6, after coming in with an average of just 8.7 in the playoffs -- the second-fewest in this postseason. New Jersey recorded only 18 shots on goalie Jonathan Quick, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Brodeur, who backstopped New Jersey to Cup titles in 1995, 2000 and 2003, made 19 saves in the clincher. "They started to play really hard in Game 5, and they had a lot of momentum tonight," Brodeur said. "The major power play came at a time when the crowd was going crazy, and they were really feeling good. Those are situations where before we'd fight through it. Tonight, we didn't." For the second straight season, the Devils will be facing major offseason questions. A year ago, New Jersey was left to figure out how the club missed the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Now the Devils will have to face the possibility they will have to replace Brodeur and Parise, who could be on the move as one of the most attractive unrestricted free agents on July 1. The 27-year-old left wing, who has spent his first seven NHL seasons with the Devils, is coming off a 31-goal season. Brodeur, the winningest goalie in NHL history, has hinted that he would like to return next season at age 41. "This season and this playoff run answered a lot of questions about where my game's at, and I'm really happy to hopefully continue," Brodeur said. If Brodeur and Parise return, the Devils could be poised for another deep playoff run despite playing in the tough Atlantic Division that produced four 100-point teams this season -- the last being New Jersey, which was the No. 6 seed in the East. "We took down our two biggest rivals, the Flyers and the Rangers, and we took this series to six games," Brodeur said. "It's disappointing, but it's been a great season. We came a long way to challenge for the Stanley Cup from not making the playoffs last year. "There's only one team that can win. It's not us this time, but we're proud of what we've done."

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Scott Brooks ready to compete with Warriors' Kevin Durant for the first time

Scott Brooks ready to compete with Warriors' Kevin Durant for the first time

On Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, Scott Brooks will for the first time in his coaching career be on the opposite bench of Kevin Durant, a former MVP and Brooks' best player during the seven years he coached the Oklahoma City Thunder. It is not an enviable task coaching, against Durant. Brooks knows what he is capable of and is looking forward to the challenge.

Well, sort of.

"You have to hope that Coach [Steve] Kerr will sit him out. That's a good start. They have three in four nights coming up, so I think he should rest," Brooks joked ahead of the Wizards' matchup with the Warriors [6:30 p.m. on CSN].

In all seriousness, Brooks will enjoy catching up with Durant. The two have remained in touch ever since Brooks was fired by OKC following the 2014-15 season.

"We text throughout the season. I don't know if that's illegal. I just lost some money, I guess," Brooks said with a smile. "It's just 'how are you doing Kevin, how's the family?' That's it. We went through a lot together and I appreciate what he's gone through and the way he's always handled himself... I've been with him through some very tough times. We've had some great moments together. Conference finals after conference finals, the NBA Finals while being a young team, his MVP year; we've just had so many moments. He's just a great person."

It's easy to tell that Brooks admires the man Durant has become. Brooks has known the eight-time All-Star ever since his rookie year when he was just 19 years old and playing for the Seattle Supersonics. In the 10 years since, he's watched Durant grow up, deal with both success and failure, and then ultimately make the decision to leave Oklahoma City in free agency. All of that came after a rough childhood growing up in Prince George's County in Maryland.

"I like the progress that he's made as a man. We all saw a young man grow up in front of our eyes and not only meet all the expectations, but he's overcome a lot. I know his story as a child with his mom and grandma, they did a great job of instilling important values that are going to continue to carry him throughout his life. I feel like I was a part of helping raise him as a good pro. That's what you want to do as a coach is teach these guys how to be pros. That's to me the No. 1 job as a coach," Brooks explained.

[RELATED: Durant reveals why he didn't even talk to Wizards]

"You have to understand that they are going through some trying times and you have to understand how to help them through it. Get them through it and also understand that when you do get through it, and when you have some success, how do you handle that? The thing I like is how he handed it when he got through it. He was the MVP and the next day you would have never known. You would have never known he was MVP. You could probably not talk to me this day if I won MVP."

On Monday at Wizards practice, Brooks recalled the early days of Durant in Seattle and OKC, how he was just a kid who couldn't bench press 200 pounds and never washed his face.

"The talk [before the draft] was that he wasn't strong enough. That's [so] overrated… I don't know if every team does that, the bench press. If we are in the strongman competition, then you don't want Kevin on your team, but the ball is not that heavy. He can pick that up pretty good. I knew he was a natural. He's just a natural talent. He just had a good feel for the game. The thing that really stood out was his work ethic. That guy, it just doesn't happen overnight. He didn't become MVP overnight. He didn't become one of the best players overnight. He's put a lot of time and work in. I was fortunate enough to be around him for seven years," Brooks said.

"He's going to go down as one of the best players ever. But the thing that [Golden State] didn't realize they were getting is a great guy and a great teammate. That takes you a lot longer down the road than just having a great player. He's as good as advertised off the court... they got an incredible person that always wants to do the right thing. Sometimes it's not easy to do the right thing, but he doesn't choose the easy path. He goes down the path that you would be proud of."

[RELATED: Beal on Durant: 'I didn't think he was going to come here']

CAA Tournament: Bracket, when and how to watch

CAA Tournament: Bracket, when and how to watch

Throughout the regular season, UNC-Wilmington (26-5, 15-3) has been the favorite to win the Colonial Athletic Association. Perhaps there was even a chance for the Seahawks to get an at-large tournament bid if they were to lose in the conference tournament. 

A handful of losses to CAA opponents, William and Mary, College of Charleston, and Elon changed that tone. 

In order for the Seahawks to make the NCAA tournament and repeat as champions they have to win the conference tournament. However, every other team in the conference will be battling for a chance in the tournament as well.

One the teams on the radar is Charleston (23-8, 14-4) who beat Wilmington at home earlier in the season and has not lost to a team below .500 all season. Emerging as a suprise team in CAA play this year, the Cougars appear to be the biggest threat to Wilimington as the tournament hosts in the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina.

Of course you can never count out long-time CAA members, William and Mary (16-13, 10-8) and Towson (19-12, 11-7).

BRACKET: 

First Round (March 3rd): 

#8 Hofstra vs. #9 Delaware 6:00 p.m.
#7 James Madison vs. #10 Drexel 8:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals (March 4th):

#1 UNC-Wilmington vs. Winner of Hofstra/Delaware 12:00 p.m.
#4 William and Mary vs. #5 Elon 2:30 p.m.
#2 Charleston vs. Winner of James Madison/Drexel 6:00 p.m.
#3 Towson vs. #6 Northeastern 8:30 p.m.

Semifinals (March 5th)

Winner of Quaterfinal #1 vs. Winner of Quarterfinal #2 2:00 p.m.
Winner of Quarerfinal #3 vs. Winner of Quarterfinal #4 7:00 p.m.

Championship (March 6th):

Winner of Semifinal #1 vs. Winner of Semifinal #2 7:00 p.m.

HOW TO WATCH:

First Round: CAA.tv

Quaterfinals: Comcast SportsNet regional networks

Semifinals: Comcast SportsNet regional networks

Championship: CBS Sports Network

 

The CAA Champion will then have to wait until March 12 for Selection Sunday to find out when and where they will play.