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Will Brodeur make Hawks his 552nd victims?
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff

Martin Brodeur, right, shakes hands with Patrick Roy following his victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. With the win, Brodeur tied Roy's record of 551 victories.

 

Associated Press

Devils goalie Martin Brodeur is surrounded by teammates after career victory No. 551 over the Canadiens on Saturday. He goes for the NHL record tonight against the Blackhawks.

 

Associated Press

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Published: 3/17/2009 12:02 AM

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In the last week, the Blackhawks have lost to goalies named Wade Dubielewicz and Peter Mannino - guys even seasoned hockey fans needed to Google.

So you would think their chances aren't good Tuesday night when they face the Devils' Martin Brodeur in New Jersey.

"I think we know this guy's name," joked Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.

As if facing Brodeur isn't difficult enough, the Hawks will skate into the Prudential Center on a night that could prove to be historic with the future Hall of Fame goaltender seeking his NHL record 552nd career victory.

"It's going to happen. We just want to postpone it," Quenneville said.

Perhaps this is what the Hawks need to snap out of their 1-4 tailspin, a road game against a Stanley Cup contender when everyone expects them to lose to Brodeur.

"It could be good for us to play one of the top teams in the league on a night like that when Marty can go for a record," said Hawks goalie Cristobal Huet, who will watch as Nikolai Khabibulin battles Brodeur.

"It's kind of the opposite of (Sunday's) game (against the last-place Islanders). We can compare ourselves to one of the best teams in the league and get our confidence back with getting the job done. It's not going to be easy, but it's a good way to start."

The 4-2 loss to the Islanders was the Hawks' seventh in 10 games, their hold on fourth place in the Western Conference now just 2 points over Vancouver. The Hawks are struggling in all areas of their game, but the focus has to be about improving defensively. They have allowed 21 goals in their 1-4 skid.

"You look at a lot of teams right now, San Jose and Boston, they're having a tough stretch at this time of the year," Quenneville said. "It's tough going through a season thinking you're not going to have some rocky roads. Right now we're dealing with it and we want to get out of it as quickly as we can.

"I think going through a whole year without facing that type of adversity is not probably healthy for your team, especially this team. I think we can learn from what we're going through right now, but we haven't accomplished it yet. We still haven't figured out how to get out of it and that's our challenge right now."

All that's standing in the way of the Hawks figuring it out is Brodeur, the 6-foot-2, standup goaltender with the small pads who keeps winning year after year.

"He's been reliable for so many years and consistent," Huet said. "Some people might say he's playing in a good defensive system, but I think he makes his team confident every night.

"Obviously he's talented and one of the greatest. He started out a butterfly (goalie), but he's got his own style now. He reacts so well to the puck that he can do whatever he wants to do."

Brodeur is 7-2-1 lifetime against the Hawks, although he is just 2-6-3 in matchups with Khabibulin.

Patrick Kane is looking forward to facing Brodeur for the first time.

"He's a great goaltender, obviously, and it'll be fun for some of us guys to go out and shoot against him," Kane said. "He's probably got the smallest equipment in the league and it looks like there's a lot of area open, but he seems to save everything.

"It could be a historic night, but hopefully we keep him from having that glory. We can't worry about him. We've got to worry about our team."