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Martin Brodeur caught behind net, felled by trapezoid on Panthers goal

By Brian Stubits | CBSSports.com

Martin Brodeur has been good outside of Game 3 in the New Jersey Devils' first-round series with the Panthers. He could have been better, sure, but he's been good and made some very nice saves.

But he also made one bone-headed play in Game 2 that might not have cost his team the game, per se, but didn't help the Devils at all in their 3-0 loss to the Panthers, putting them on the verge of elimination.

Or if you want to look at it this way, he was finally felled at a big moment by the rule that was put into place because of him, the trapezoid.

With the Panthers holding onto a 1-0 lead mid-way through the third period, the Devils finally began getting solid pressure in the offensive zone and started peppering Panthers goalie Jose Theodore, the first time all game they had put consistent pressure on the Panthers. That's when Shawn Matthias -- who deserves a ton of credit for this play -- muscled the puck out of the zone and through the neutral zone before Scottie Upshall was able to throw the puck in deep.

Then this happened.

Brodeur got stuck in a bad position on the play. The puck wasn't fired into the zone by Upshall, just nudged along gently. Then he found himself waiting for the puck to enter the trapezoid, the area behind the goal he can legally play it. Before it was able to reach the line, a hard-charging Kris Versteeg was able to pass the puck to the slot where Upshall was salivating in front of the open net. It was 2-0 and all momentum was stripped from the Devils. It was a crushing play.

As I said, it's a shame for Brodeur, who made a living in the 90s and early part of the 2000s playing the puck in the corners, part of that Devils trap that made them so successful for years.

Whether or not this play made a difference in the series, it doesn't matter. The Devils are heading home after Game 5 with a series deficit, one loss from being ousted. Most people expected they would be heading home after Game 5 to rest for the second round.

But the Panthers have proven to be a pest, just like the rats that have been raining on the ice in Florida. The part of this series that's perhaps more shocking than the Panthers having a 3-2 series lead is the success they have had on the power play. The first and game-winning goal in Game 5 was a Kris Versteeg one-timer from a sharp angle on the man advantage. It was already Florida's seventh power-play goal in the five games thus far, staggering when you consider the Devils gave up only 29 in 82 games during the season.

That makes a couple of uncharacteristic aspects of Game 5 and this series. The other is Brodeur mishandling pucks, even if he didn't even get the chance to touch this one.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

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