The 2010-2011 Player Review: Martin Brodeur
Throughout the offseason, The Devils’ Den will break down the 2010-2011 Devils season. We’ll cover the big team stories, but also offer a breakdown of individual player performances. In today’s review, we focus on Martin Brodeur.
Despite the immense amount of change throughout the organization this summer, one constant remained – Martin Brodeur. The New Jersey Devils goalie entered his 17th straight season as the unquestioned number one goalie, looking to break (and extend) more records. After finishing a healthy 2010 campaign, one in which he finished third in the Vezina voting, many expected Brodeur to continue his dominance. As a matter of fact, I wrote this in my season preview:
Year in and year out, the Devils never stress about one position – goalie. We all know Brodeur will stand between the pipes and play most of the team’s games this season. While the question has been asked this preseason as to whether or not Brodeur will rest more, we all know what he’ll do this season. Pencil Brodeur in for around 70-75 starts and a possible Vezina trophy.
There’s no real expectations for Johan Hedburg this season. He might get 12 to 15 starts, and he only needs to play well enough to keep the Devils in each game. But we can’t forget two years ago, when Brodeur went down with an injury. We don’t expect Hedberg to contribute much, but the possibility is still there.
Damn great job of foreshadowing. Brodeur once again suffered through an injury-plagued season, his second in the past three years. Terrible defensive play helped wreck his numbers, giving him his first ever sub-.500 season. It seemed he lost some of his luster, and I questioned whether or not Brodeur showed decline during the first half of the season.
Brodeur wouldn’t go down without a fight. Despite his abysmal first half, the future Hall-of-Famer rebounded during the team’s second half surge. He looked like the old Brodeur, snagging shots with his glove and making jaw-dropping saves. But even that second half couldn’t propel him to Brodeur-like stats. In the end, the Devils’ goalie slogged through one of his worst regular season campaigns.
Brodeur At Even Strength
Brodeur’s even strength numbers were the worst in four years. He can’t shoulder the blame for everything, as his performance directly ties into his stats. Still, the numbers aren’t pretty. In 56 games, Brodeur allowed 92 goals. That’s just 32 less than the 124 he allowed in total during the 2009-10 regular season, and he played in only 11 more games. He received little offensive support, with the team scoring 75 goals.
Predictably, the averages weren’t very good. The team averaged 1.78 goals for per 60 with Brodeur on the ice, but allowed 2.19 goals against per 60. That left the Devils’ goalie with a minus-0.4 rating. All three numbers are the worst in four years. It didn’t improve with him off the ice, as the team scored more (2.43 goals for per 60) but also allowed more goals (4.86 goals against per 60).
How much blame should Brodeur shoulder for his miserable even strength numbers? There were plenty of times when his defense left him out to dry this season. During the first half, it seemed every mistake became a goal. But it’s not completely the defense’s fault. Like every other player, Brodeur had a subpar first half of the season. He allowed several second chance opportunities game after game, and his glove hand looked slow.
Even the stellar second half couldn’t improve those numbers. From January to April, Brodeur played in 27 games (26 starts), posting a 1.72 goals-against average and a .964 save percentage. Yet that push still couldn’t get him to even average numbers. It’s amazing just how much he struggled during the first half of the season.
Brodeur On The Penalty Kill
Brodeur wasn’t spectacular on the penalty kill, but his numbers fell in line with his recent seasons. He allowed 24 shorthanded goals, which isn’t completely terrible. Opponents averaged just 5.79 goals against per 60, almost three goals better than the 8.49 goals against per 60 with him off the ice. He faced 38.8 shots against per 60, a number that dropped to 33.9 with him off the ice.
It’s tough to judge Brodeur’s shorthanded performance because it’s directly tied to the ability of the four penalty killers around him. A goalie does need to rob a few chances, and Brodeur did his fare share of that. But if the penalty killers fail to rotate or allow a point blank shot, there’s nothing he can do. The numbers don’t look great, but they roughly fall in line with his past seasons. With him off the ice, the team allowed more goals, which shows his positive impact.
By no means was this the season we expected from Brodeur. Injuries and ineffective play completely ruined the first half of the season. It brought to light fears that age and wear and tear were finally starting to take their toll. It seemed to come suddenly, almost too suddenly, and the future of the position was thrust into the spotlight. Brodeur even addressed the situation, saying the organization needed to plan for the future without him. For a while, it seemed that future would be immediate.
The second half surge brought back the “real” Brodeur. Soon, his glove saves were routine, his rebound control on point and his abilities restored. He kept them in every game and even stole a few. The loud whispers about his potential demise faded back into the background.
The second half was great, but this season’s story still ended on a sour note. According to Behind the Net’s GVT rating, Brodeur finished the season a measly plus-0.1. That means he was worth just one tenth of a point more than a replacement goalie. In a season where he fell far short of expectations, this is the most glaring deficiency. For so many years, Brodeur has willed Devils teams to victories. He couldn’t harness that ability this season, failing to carry them like he did in the past.
This is, for all intents and purposes, the twilight of Brodeur’s career. He enters the 2011-12 season in the final year of his contract. He won’t decide past that season, a smart decision considering his age and recent play. His injuries seem to indicate all those seasons of 70-plus games are taking their toll.
For 17 years, Brodeur patrolled the blue paint with unquestioned talent. The ability is still there. But if this season was any indication, it’s the beginning of the end for Brodeur.