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Martin Is The Man The Devils' workhorse goaltender, Martin Brodeur, is SI's choice as the midseason MVP

On New Year's Eve New Jersey Devils backup goalie Corey Schwab
was placed on injured reserve, the hockey equivalent of a tree
falling in the woods with nobody around to hear it. Who was going
to miss a guy who had appeared in only 13 of his 117 games with
the team? That's what happens when you're playing behind Martin
Brodeur, who since the start of the 2001-02 season has been in
net for 90% of his team's matches--more than any other NHL
netminder over that span--including 39 of the Devils' first 41
this season. Brodeur's also started the franchise's last 128
playoff games. It's a remarkable workload by the standards of
today's goaltenders, none of whom have it easier than Schwab and
rookie Ari Ahonen, who's filling in--so to speak, since he hasn't
played a minute--while Schwab recovers from a pulled groin.

"I take a lot of pride in being durable," says Brodeur, who last
June led the Devils to their third Stanley Cup since 1995. "But I
always say that [defenseman] Scott Stevens plays a lot harder
than I do, and he plays 82 games a year."

Brodeur, 31, is SI's pick as midseason MVP. At week's end he had
a league-leading 20 victories, putting him on track for a record
eighth-straight season with 35 or more wins. His goals-against
average was a sparkling 1.82, and with nine shutouts Brodeur was
on pace to have the most since George Hainsworth had 22 in

Brodeur's durability defies logic. While teammates drink protein
shakes and Powerade between periods, Brodeur, who is a doughy
6'2" and 215 pounds, swills Sprite. "I don't look like a model,
but the way I practice allows me to stay healthy," says Brodeur,
an 11-year vet. "I practice like I play in a game, so it's no
shock to my body when it's time to play."

Brodeur is making progress toward Patrick Roy's alltime NHL
records for games played (1,029) and wins (551). Based on his
career averages, Brodeur, who had played in 704 matches with 385
victories, could catch Roy before he turns 37. "It's
mind-boggling," Brodeur says. "But I'll look at that when I
retire. I have more Cups to win."

--Stephen Cannella