BOSTON -- New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur started last night's NHL All-Star Game in the East goal, and even though he has a Stanley Cup ring to his credit, the first-time all-star was just a little worried.
"It's pretty tough to be in this position," he said, with a nervous laugh. "Every time you see these all-star games, it's wide-open and goalies get abused. It's going to be hard "
As Brodeur headed toward the ice, he said he remembered watching the 1993 All-Star Game in Montreal, when Chicago goalie Ed Belfour got stung, allowing six goals in the first 20 minutes.
"I think the forwards are planning to have some fun," he said. "I'm not going to think about it. Maybe I can make a few stops. Wish me luck."
Last night, Brodeur didn't need luck. He was simply very good and became the second goalie since 1986 (Patrick Roy did it in '93) to have a shutout period in an All-Star Game.
He stopped Toronto's Mike Gartner and Mats Sundin point-blank. He stopped Colorado Avalanche Owen Nolan on a breakaway and then Chicago's Denis Savard. And after a shot by Colorado's Peter Forsberg clanged off the post with 11.1 seconds left in the opening period, Brodeur left the ice unscathed.
"You dream of this," said Brodeur. "You're in the dressing room and you look around at all those guys -- Jagr, Messier, Lemieux -- and it's something that's really special. I've got to get Mario Lemieux's autograph before I get out of here."
NHL aging well
Pittsburgh Penguins center Ron Francis is the third-leading scorer in the NHL this season and is one of 18 All-Stars older than 30.
"There are just a lot of bottles of good red wine here," said Francis, who is in his 14th season. "They keep getting better with age. I don't think age is a big factor. I think a guy's talents and smarts and his desire to play the game all come through. That why I think you're seeing a lot more veterans here. They still want to compete. They still want to be successful."
And they don't want to be overlooked. Francis made this team as a "commissioner's selection" of special players, because the fans didn't vote him to the team and the coaches didn't pick him to round out the roster.
"I was obviously disappointed not to be selected to this game," said Francis. "I thought with the year I'm having, I thought I deserved to be here. So I don't know what happened. But I'm happy to be here and I'm enjoying it."
Among the older NHL stars: Philadelphia's Craig MacTavish, the oldest at 37; New York Ranger Mark Messier, Boston's Ray Bourque and Toronto's Mike Gartner, all 35; Los Angeles' Wayne Gretzky, Detroit's Paul Coffey and Chicago's Denis Savard, all 34; Chicago's Chris Chelios, 33; St. Louis' Al MacInnis and Francis, 32; St. Louis' Brett Hull, New Jersey's Scott Stevens, New York's Pat Verbeek, and Chicago's Gary Suter, all 31.