Devilution

Justin Goldman

2010-10-18

Brodeur

 

In just nine days, Martin Brodeur has started all six games for the New Jersey Devils. That comes as no surprise to anyone. But his 1-4-1 record, 3.18 goals against average and .887 save percentage surely does. With his lone win coming by way of a 24-save shutout over the Sabres, the other five outings speak volumes to his downright dirty start. Mired in mediocrity, Brodeur's numerous weak goals against has led many analysts to consider him a thing of the past.

 

For the more things change, the more he stays the same. And that, my fantasy friends, is the essence of Brodeur's issues.

 

FANTASY MAILBAG: OCTOBER 18

 

The speed of the game increases, but his half-butterfly and stand-up style remains a constant. Of the 18 goals against him, I can barely count on both hands the ones that came off bad rebounds or simply leaked through him. Cody McLeod's goal to open up the scoring in Colorado's 3-2 win last Thursday was the one that encompassed Brodeur's struggle the most. A routine shot from the wing, no traffic at all, and the puck finds its way through his pads. Even I would have stopped that shot blindfolded, but Brodeur's stubbornness put his team in a hole and the result was a one-goal loss, despite out-shooting the Avalanche 43-22.

 

Too many times he's making the original save with a half-butterfly technique and then falling back on his rear. Because of this, he's unable to move laterally and eliminate the upper corners effectively. He's forced to scramble and stretch and contort. He's prone and ineffective as soon as he's off his feet and he no longer has the apt defense in front of him to bail him out on a consistent basis.

 

On top of these mechanical issues, Brodeur is never benched if he has a bad outing. He's never pushed from a young and able backup, so he feels no external pressure or motivation from other teammates or the coaching staff. Yes, I think Johan Hedberg is a great fit in a Devils uniform, but he's a complimentary backup, not a challenger. Every team must have two goalies capable of winning at any given moment. But if Hedberg never plays, how can he be expected to help his teammates? It’s not just the allocation of salary and justifying that $1.5 million cap hit, but the fact that in today’s NHL, it is foolish and risky to think a goalie like Brodeur can still be expected to play 75 games.

 

If Brodeur expects to win 40 games and post a save percentage anywhere close to .910 this season, he must make changes. The question is whether or not he's willing to make them. This is something I simply can't answer, but I can say that his mental toughness, experience and leadership will allow him to bounce back and vastly improve his numbers. I don't doubt Brodeur's ability to win hockey games by using his brain, nor should any of his owners. But I do doubt the outdated technique. It has been building up to this point ever since his arm injury and it will continue to fester and grow u