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Beyond 551, The Main Goal Remains the Same

Last night, history was made as Martin Brodeur tied Patrick Roy's for career regular season wins with 551. It was done in Brodeur's home city of Montreal, with a solid win and a fantastic reaction from the fans in Montreal at the end. It was a night that neither Devil fan, the Devils, the beat reporters (Tom Gulitti), Brodeur's family, Patrick Roy, and Martin Brodeur will ever forget.

In the run up to the return of Martin Brodeur, I've written a number of things about it from various perspectives. The first one was about the importance of Brodeur's return. That while Scott Clemmensen and Kevin Weekes have done a great job filling in for a legend, Brodeur was still important. He has the trust that all the great goaltenders. The knowledge and the feeling that he can get the job done regardless of the opponent, the situation, last night's game, the last game between that opponent, and so forth.

The second one was about looking over what I initially felt after Martin Brodeur's injury. I felt the Devils needed to really just up their game overall in all facets, especially in terms of scoring. And the Devils have done exactly that. But just as importantly, they continue to do that. A third, more general thought, was an emphasis on that hockey is a results oriented business. At the end of the day, the main question is: did your team succeed? Did they win in part to what you have contributed to the organization. Again, the Devils pulled together to do that when Marty was injured. They have not regressed since his return, either. The Devils have lost exactly one game since Brodeur returned!

Even if you only look at stats, you can't deny that Brodeur has excelled since his return from injury.

2008 - Martin Brodeur 18 1047 13 3 2 2 36 2.06 464 428 .922 4

So there is plenty to celebrate and praise and laud. It's fitting that Lou will have something planned should Martin Brodeur win his 552nd game. I think it's grand that Gary Bettman will follow Brodeur so he can be there when he breaks that record. James O'Brien correctly points out that it is nigh-impossible to compare Brodeur to past goaltending legends with all the changes in the game in between; so it is best to appreciate Brodeur for what he's doing right now. Clearly, the league, the team, and the Devils supporters are doing just that. Hopefully, so will hockey fans everywhere will (though I don't expect much from the rivals, and understandably so!)

And the milestones are being changed for more than just Brodeur's accomplishments! Brian Rolston is now another one to have scored 300 NHL goals or more in his career. Patrik Elias will undoubtedly become the franchise's new leading scorer. Zach Parise has a shot at cracking 50 goals. The team only needs 5 more wins to have their first 50 win season in franchise history. So much is happening between New Jersey and the record books!

However, I want to emphasize what I'm sure Lou, Brent Sutter, and the team is thinking: the Devils are not done yet.

Setting these milestones are fantasic achievements. The Devils aren't re-writing the record books for the sake of setting something new. It has been a wonderful reward during their constant pursuit of success. From Lou at the very top to the players on the ice making results happen.

Yet, the goal for this team will remain the same. Do not expect them to give up so easily on it. Brodeur isn't going to let down after win #552 any more than Elias will stop looking to make plays happen after he gets that 702nd point or Parise will stop trying to score should he reach goal #50. Why, I would say these people would smash those records (well, maybe not Parise...not this year, at least). But again, it's a result from the pursuit of victory - something Lou has always strived for and had his coaches, like Brent Sutter, drill into the head of the players in the organization.

Even after Brodeur wins that 552nd game, be it on Tuesday against Chicago, Wednesday in Carolina, or Friday against Minnesota, or some other time after those three, the point of the 2008-09 season will not change. The Devils will not say it was a complete success because Brodeur did X or Elias did Y or Mike Rupp did Z.

That will occur if and only if the Devils complete the biggest goal for any team is the Devils' main goal every season: the Stanley Cup.

Records just get broken on the way there. A mark of consistency in such pursuit. Honestly, with how well things are going, I don't see why it can't happen in 2009.