Monday Musings: Brodeur stuck on Devil of a number | Hockey | CBC Sports

Hockey Night in CanadaMonday Musings: Brodeur stuck on Devil of a number

Posted: Monday, April 15, 2013 | 06:00 AM

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Martin Brodeur of the Devils peers up at the scoreboard in a 2-0 loss to the Senators this past Friday at the Prudential Center. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) Martin Brodeur of the Devils peers up at the scoreboard in a 2-0 loss to the Senators this past Friday at the Prudential Center. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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This week's musings looks at Martin Brodeur stuck on win No. 666, Alex Chiasson's wonderful start to his NHL career, minor-league coach Willie Desjardins success, the NHL's Twitter standings and P.K. Subban for the Norris Trophy.

If you follow Hockey Night in Canada analyst Craig Simpson on Twitter, you likely know about the spooky situation Martin Brodeur has been mired in for the last three weeks.

After a month-long absence, the 40-year-old New Jersey Devils goalie returned from a pinched nerve ailment on Mar. 21, scored his third career goal and won. Two nights later, he won again. It was career victory No. 666, a fitting total for a lifelong Devil.

However, it has proven to be an omen. Brodeur hasn't won since. He arrives in Toronto on Monday to play the Maple Leafs on a nine-game (0-5-4) winless streak. The NHL's all-time winningest goalie had added to his all-time leading loss total (378) and, with seven games remaining, New Jersey's playoff hopes are slipping away.

He told reporters in New Jersey on Sunday that he's tried everything to change his luck. He's worn different watches to games. He has solicited his daughter, Anabelle, to select good-luck ties.

"Last year, every time my daughter was home, she'd pick my tie for a game," Brodeur told the Star-Ledger. "So the other day she was home from school and I said, 'You go pick my tie now.' I think everybody has tried something. Little things like that.

"I know it sounds silly, maybe, to the common person. But an athlete knows what we're talking about. We're willing to try everything. I'll play forward."

A more likely reason for the Devils slide is the absence of star Ilya Kovalchuk. Since he hurt his right shoulder, New Jersey hasn't won. He didn't accompany his teammates to Toronto.

Another loss in regulation time, overtime or shootout would tie the Devils franchise winless record at 10, set early in the 1983-84 season. 

Who is Alex Chiasson?

Alex Chiasson is off to quite a start in his NHL career. He has scored six times in his first six NHL games to play a key part in the Dallas Stars late-season run at a playoff spot. The Stars have won five in a row, even though general manager Joe Nieuwendyk dumped captain Brenden Morrow, Derek Roy and Jaromir Jagr prior to the trade deadline.

Chiasson, a 22-year-old native of Montreal, stepped into Jagr's spot on a line with veterans Ray Whitney and Jamie Benn and hasn't looked out of place. Drafted in 2009 (38th overall), he's another find of eagle-eye scout Tim Bernhardt, now with the Phoenix Coyotes, when he ran the Stars amateur-scouting department.

Chiasson played at Boston University. While there, he befriended Patrice Bergeron and trained with the Boston Bruins star in the off-season.

What has been incredible is that Chiasson wasn't a prolific scorer in college. He checked in with 15 goals in 38 games in his final season at Boston University last year and, prior to his call-up this season, he only had 13 goals in 57 games of his rookie AHL season with the Texas Stars.

But in the NHL, Chiasson has been deadly. And the Stars are thankful for that.

Desjardins deserves a look 

We saw Ron Rolston promoted from AHL Rochester to the Buffalo Sabres head coach earlier this season. A few weeks later, the Tampa Bay Lightning upgraded Jon Cooper from their minor-league team in Syracuse.

Toronto Marlies bench boss Dallas Eakins could be one of the next coaches from the AHL to get a lift to the NHL, but Texas head coach Willie Desjardins also deserves consideration.

Chiasson is one of 14 players that have been promoted from Desjardins' AHL team to the Stars at one time or another this season. Despite all these call-ups, his team will win the AHL's Western Conference regular-season title and is four points behind Providence for the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy (AHL overall regular season championship) with three games remaining.

The 56-year-old Desjardins is a terrific coach. Before he turned to the pro game, he coached the Medicine Hat Tigers to WHL championships in 2003-04 and 2006-07 and Canada to a silver medal after a loss in overtime to the United States in the final at the 2010 world juniors, which was a better result for Canada than in 2011, 2012 or 2013.

I could see Desjardins behind the Sabres bench next fall if current GM Darcy Regier is allowed to continue running the NHL team. Regier, Desjardins, former NHL coach Brian Sutter and Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini were all teammates with the Lethbridge Broncos in the mid-1970s.

It will be interesting to see how much the attention the quiet Desjardins will get this summer.

Habs centre of hockey twitterverse

People in Toronto like to think that the Maple Leafs are the centre of the hockey universe. But in terms of Twitter followers, the Maple Leafs lag behind in sixth.

Surprised? Not really. I've always thought that the Maple Leafs fan base is more corporate and a tad older. 

But we enlisted our resident CBC Sports social media expert Monika Platek for her views:

  • She believes the NHL teams that jumped on Twitter first were ahead of the curve.
  • Some teams are more engaging than others, providing the fan base with behind the scenes photos, news and updates at practice.
  • Others, like the Los Angeles Kings, have been popular because of its candid, edgy and humorous approach. 

Here are the NHL's Twitter standings as of midnight ET on Sunday:

  1. Montreal 389,683
  2. Vancouver 369,923
  3. Pittsburgh 354,375
  4. Boston 318,203
  5. Chicago 303,109
  6. Toronto 294,127
  7. Detroit 275,790
  8. Philadelphia 249,930
  9. N.Y. Rangers 220,291
  10. Edmonton 207,470
  11. Los Angeles 205,696
  12. Washington 160,816
  13. Calgary 153,64
  14. New Jersey 142,986
  15. Buffalo 142,066
  16. Winnipeg 140,711
  17. St. Louis 139,039 
  18. San Jose 134,697
  19. Minnesota 133,241
  20. Ottawa 116,957
  21. Colorado 107,875
  22. Tampa Bay 104,214
  23. Dallas 101,463
  24. Nashville 101,335
  25. Anaheim 100,026
  26. Carolina 84,850
  27. Columbus 81,445
  28. Florida 76,932
  29. Phoenix 74,229
  30. N.Y. Islanders 72,865

Subban for Norris

The more I watch P.K. Subban play, the more I like him for the Norris Trophy as top NHL defenceman this season.

Despite missing the first six games because of a contract dispute, the 23-year-old Canadiens defenceman leads all blue-liners in points with 34 in 35 games.

But he has become more than an offensive producer and power-play specialist. Since he was moved alongside dependable veteran Josh Gorges, the pair has been assigned to go up against the opposition's top line.

Even in the Canadiens' 5-1 lopsided loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, Subban was only a minus-1 despite leading Montreal in ice time at 24:49 minutes.

Here's a look a Subban's stats line and where he stands among the league leaders for defencemen:

  • Goals -- 11 (1st)
  • Assists -- 23 (3rd)
  • Points --34 (1st)
  • Plus-minus -- +10 (T18)
  • Minutes -- 23:08 (39th)
  • Power-play goals -- 7 (2nd)
  • Power-play points -- 23 (1st)

By the numbers

0 -- Goals for Kings defenceman Drew Doughty in the first 28 games this season.

5 -- Goals for Doughty in his last 14 outings.

5 -- Losses in a row for the Oilers to wipe out the good vibrations of the five-game win streak between Mar. 23 and Apr. 3 that put them in position to take a run at their first playoff position since 2006.

54 -- Points is the target for eighth place in both the Western and Eastern Conference with 13 days left in the lockout-shortened season.

91 -- Games of NHL experience between six rookies the Nashville Predators had in their lineup for their meeting with the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday: Rich Clune (55); Victor Bartley (18); Taylor Beck (13); Austin Watson (3); Daniel Bang (2); and Filip Forsberg, who made his NHL debut at age 18.

214 -- Shutout streak in minutes for St. Louis Blues goalie Brian Elliott that ended versus the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

241:33 -- Elliott's personal-best shutout streak and franchise record set last year.

332:01 -- The longest shutout streak in NHL history set by Brian Boucher when he was with Phoenix in 2003-04.

Follow Tim Wharnsby on Twitter @WharnsbyCBC

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