Home > Analysis > Is This The Decline of Martin Brodeur?

Is This The Decline of Martin Brodeur?

Martin Brodeur was sharp yesterday in relief of Johan Hedberg. But are his best days behind him? Photo Credit: Matt Slocum/AP Photo

The New Jersey Devils knew these days would come.

Martin Brodeur would eventually slow down as his age climbed. It was inevitable. But it seems to have come quicker than anyone expected.

Brodeur is 5-18-1 this season, with a career worst 3.15 goals-against average and .882 save percentage. He’s been pulled five times this season, the most recent coming eight minutes into the Devils’ 6-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes.

With their certain future Hall of Famer struggling, the Devils decided to use a goalie rotation, giving Johan Hedberg more starts. Despite being the all-time leader in several categories, Brodeur checked his ego and told the coaches to play Hedberg more.

“In the last few games I haven’t played well,” he told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. “I got pulled three times in the last six games. Any other goalie wouldn’t be able to get back in the net. I’ve got the luxury of they make me play and I told them if I take a little break it won’t be that big of a deal.”

Brodeur believes a few games as the backup could help his play.

“It’s important to look at things out there and how other people play and stuff like that and how our system is working defensively,” he said to Gulitti. “Sometimes you can learn and be able to be ahead of the play a little bit because you’ve been watching more.”

It’s not a secret that Brodeur has slowed in recent years. His glove is a tick slower, and he’s missed several games due to injury.

The team’s defense has also changed. For several years, Brodeur was protected by Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Scott Niedermayer, etc. Those were great players, some even Hall of Famers, and it allowed Brodeur to achieve success. As players moved on, their replacements couldn’t replicate that squad’s success. Brodeur has underwent significant wear and tear in recent years, and all those miles are starting to catch up to him.

Lemaire believes Brodeur will fight back and find his strong play.

“Marty, he’d like to be better all the time,” Lemaire told Gulitti. “So, he’s going to think about last game and what he can do better. That’s how he thinks about last game. Not that he didn’t play well and things like that. He’s a fighter. It’s something new for him. It never happened (before). (He) only knows really what’s going on inside and how he takes things.

“It’s got to be different for him because he’s been on top. He’s been the best for a long time and he was great and now it’s tougher for him. But he’s a fighter. He’s always been. He’s had bad games in the past and bounced back the following game. Here it’s not only him. It’s the team too that makes him like this. It’s not only him. It’s how we play in front of him too.”

People will read the writing on the wall and see this season as Brodeur’s decline. I’m not one of those people. The Devils goalie is struggling mightily. There’s no two ways about that. Brodeur hasn’t been on his game, but he’s also dealt with several unusual situations. His nagging elbow injury sapped some of his strength. Subpar defense has meant every mistake or rebound has found the back of the net. And the Devils haven’t scored during 5-0n-5 play.

Brodeur will work hard to get back. He’s not the same goalie as five years ago, but he’s not this bad. It may be a down year, but I don’t think it’s his ultimate decline. Brodeur has been bad, but he’s not this bad. The Devils’ goalie has declined in recent year, but this isn’t the light at the end of the tunnel.


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