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Sens face test in Brodeur

Free Press news services   2003-05-09 11:31:30  

OTTAWA -- Playing the Philadelphia Flyers was a Roman holiday compared to what awaits the Ottawa Senators: Martin Brodeur, perhaps the best goalie in the NHL.

The Senators and New Jersey Devils open their Eastern Conference final tomorrow afternoon at the Corel Centre. But the Sens know they'll have to come up with a new plan from the one they used to rattle Flyers netminder Roman Cechmanek.

Brodeur isn't likely to fold as easily as Cechmanek.

"There's no question we're going to face a better goaltender in this series," said Sens defenceman Curtis Leschyshyn. "Brodeur's got the credentials of two Stanley Cup wins and he's the kind of guy who's got a lot of pride.

"It's not like we're facing a guy who's on the way down in his career either. He's a guy who's in the prime of his career and we're going to have to do as much as we can to try to have success against him. We've got to make sure we get to the front of the net. It's going to be tough."

Cechmanek looked shaky at times in Ottawa's 5-2 Game 5 win, then in a 5-1 Philly loss in Game 6.

Brodeur doesn't have fragile confidence. He has a 1.51 goals-against average in the playoffs and a .941 save percentage. Good numbers? Nope, great numbers.

"I don't think he's any different than any other goaltender you face. You've got to try to take him off his game," said Ottawa winger Vaclav Varada. "The thing is you're not going to (rattle) a guy like Brodeur because he's not like that. You have to work pretty hard to get to him.

"Brodeur isn't like Cechmanek. Brodeur has been there and he's done the job. He's won Stanley Cups and he's got a gold medal from the Olympics. He's a winner and he's proven it. He can control a game."

The Senators have never let Brodeur intimidate them. In 1998, the coaching staff drew up a plan to keep the puck away from him, following an extensive study on his ability to handle the puck.

Expect to see the Sens take a similar approach this time. Brodeur is one of the best "defencemen" in the league if he's allowed to touch the puck. Ottawa will have to reconsider a dump-and-chase style.

"He's like any goalie: you allow him to see it and he's going to stop it," said winger Marian Hossa, who has been the Senators' most dangerous performer in these playoffs, with five goals and seven assists.

Sens' sale may get OK today

A prolonged playoff run is helping the Senators pay down current bills ahead of the club's imminent sale.

But more importantly, postseason success could translate into a higher season-ticket base seen as critical to the team's future viability, says a source close to incoming owner Eugene Melnyk.

Every home playoff game is worth $600,000 in net revenue. That cash is going to rising legal costs and interim financing to keep operating.

Still, the winning run will have minimal impact on what Melnyk is offering for the near-bankrupt club, according to the source close to the Toronto billionaire. Tentative deals on the team and arena are said to have been reached and the sale could be recognized today in court.



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