Devils Need A Goalie Rotation
The New Jersey Devils have a goalie problem.
Since returning from a right elbow injury, Martin Brodeur hasn’t played like a future Hall of Fame goalie. In 10 starts, Brodeur is 1-9-0 and has been pulled early in three of those games. He’s allowed four-plus goals in four of those games as well. Brodeur misses routine shots and looks slow in the crease.
The Devils rode Brodeur for many years, and it’s been a successful formula. But with his recent struggles – and a hot Johan Hedberg on the bench – the Devils need to turn to a goalie rotation.
It’s clear that Brodeur is struggling with a confidence issue. It’s compounded several of the already present issues the Devils’ goalie has dealt with this season. Need proof? Watch any highlight of the recent goals against Brodeur. As soon as the other team scores, the goalie throws his head back and rolls his eyes. He gives the same defeated look after each and every goal. We’re used to watching Brodeur shake off goals, but it hasn’t been that simple this season.
That lack of confidence directly correlates with his poor play. We all know Brodeur has lost a step as he’s gotten older. Despite his increased age, the goalie still had good positioning and confidence in net. This recent stretch has eroded those abilities. Brodeur is allowing great rebound opportunities, and his ability to make the second save hasn’t been there. His positioning isn’t great, and his glove has slowed tremendously.
The Devils, however, aren’t in a dire situation. Lou Lamoriello, in maybe his smartest signing of the summer, brought in Hedberg to provide a veteran backup for Brodeur. And so far, the signing has paid off. Yes, he only has five wins. But he’s shown the ability to keep the Devils in the game. His numbers aren’t great (2.93 goals-against average, .899 save percentage), but he provides a boost to the team. The defense plays better around him, and he’s shown the ability to win games.
While Brodeur struggles, the Devils shouldn’t let Hedberg rot on the bench. Eventually, Brodeur
will find his groove. But, right now, Hedberg provides the best chance to win. That’s ultimately what the Devils need – wins. There’s no way Brodeur should be benched. But cutting his workload down by a game or two per week would be beneficial. If the Devils’ goalie can re-discover his confidence, then slowly phase out the rotation. But with Brodeur struggling and Hedberg succeeding, the best solution is a rotation.
Don’t think it can work? Look at other teams around the NHL. Marc-Andre Fleury is the unquestioned number one in Pittsburgh. Yet Brent Johnson will get around 20 starts. Ditto for Henrik Lundqvist and Martin Biron. Both of those teams are fighting for playoff positions and will have fresh goalies for a late season push.
With Brodeur struggling, only one solution makes sense – turn to a goalie rotation. With only 10 wins on the season, it won’t hurt the Devils to give it a try.