With the Senators back at practice Friday following a day off in the best-of-seven series, the 24-year-old had his chance to respond to pointed remarks made by Brodeur regarding Emery’s play in Game 4 – a 3-2 Ottawa victory that has the Devils on the brink of elimination.
And if Brodeur’s comments suggesting the young goaltender is looking shaky despite a 3-1 Senators lead in the series were intended to rattle Emery’s cage, they didn’t work.
“They’re down in the series, I don’t know what he said, but it doesn’t necessarily matter to me, I’m not going to say anything,” Emery said before the Senators left for New Jersey for Game 5 Saturday (8 p.m. ET).
“I’m just happy we’re winning games. We’ve got a chance to beat them out and that’s what we’re going to New Jersey to do.”
The Devils, of course, will do anything to prevent that from happening, even if it includes playing mind games.
That’s what Brodeur, one of the NHL’s good guys, was likely trying to do Wednesday when he told reporters after Game 4 that the Devils had found a possible chink in the Senators’ armour.
“I think we finally proved to ourselves that if we shoot the puck on Emery, he won’t look too good,” he said. “He was bobbling a lot of pucks and we could have gotten a lot more than we did. He played a good game, but I think we exposed him a little with his rebound control.”
By Thursday, Brodeur, who earlier this spring sang Emery’s praises in a regular column he pens for the Journal de Montreal, had backed off on those comments when he told New Jersey reporters: “It’s not something to diminish the way he played. For us, I think we saw something in their defence and we started putting pucks at him. … I think the word ‘exposed’ is more directed at their (team).”
That didn’t stop his original remarks from reaching the Ottawa camp but Emery, who grew up a Brodeur fan, didn’t bite.
He’s more focused on trying to wrap the series up as quickly as possible so the Senators can get some down time before making just their second conference final appearance in the franchise’s modern history.
“I know how I’m playing and I know how I feel out there. Like I said, we just want to win,” Emery said.
If anything, Brodeur’s comments may have exposed how desperate the Devils are becoming to change their fortunes.
They’ve been outplayed for most of the series and only a strong performance from Brodeur in Game 2 allowed them to pick up a win.
The Devils have managed just two goals in the last two games while at the other end, Brodeur allowed two more suspect goals Wednesday night to put his team in the hole.
“We need to keep doing the things that have been working,” Emery said.
“We realize they’re going to come out with that desperation, we’ve just kind of got to match that.”
Ottawa is 5-0 all-time when leading a series 3-1. Meanwhile, the Devils are 1-5 when trailing by that same margin and they escaped a 3-1 hole to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in 2000 so the Senators are wary of giving the Devils any ideas of extending the series.
“They’re a team that’s capable of coming back and hanging around,” said Senators left-winger Dany Heatley. “It’s our job not to let them hang around and take the play to them.”
The Senators killed off the Pittsburgh Penguins in the opening round at the first opportunity, with Emery recording a shutout to boot, and they’d be happy to do it again.
That would allow them the chance to sit back for a couple of days while the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers are extended to at least six games for the other berth in the conference final.
Although veteran centre Dean McAmmond sat out practice Friday with what Senators coach Bryan Murray said was a sore throat and right-winger Patrick Eaves participated in a full workout for the first time since being knocked out in Game 3 of the first round, Ottawa isn’t expected to make any lineup changes.
“We have to approach the game the same as we know New Jersey is going to, as a team that desperately wants to win a hockey game,” Murray said. “I believe the focus is totally on tomorrow night.”