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Perhaps inevitably, following the Devils’ first-round ouster at the hands of the Flyers, everything in New Jersey, from the Kovalchuk trade to the resiliency of Martin Brodeur, has come under fire from the hockey media.  For the Devils, this makes the third consecutive year they’ve lost in the first round of the playoffs, and for a team that was one of the best in the league over the last decade, it’s a major disappointment.

 

Brodeur’s a fitting focal point for articles wondering what has happened to the Devils; he’s the most important holdover from their Cup-winning teams, the player who best personifies both the heights the franchise reached, as well as its recent failings.

 

But as far as I’m concerned, focusing on Brodeur is sacrificing reality for the sake of an appealing narrative.

 

Brodeur’s alternated good and bad playoffs since the mid-90’s, so his poor performance against Philadelphia isn’t something that hasn’t happened before.  One could even argue that when the Devils made their run to the finals in 2001, they did it despite sub-par play on Brodeur’s part; the legendary goaltender couldn’t crack the 0.900 SV% mark over 25 games but the stifling Devils’ defence made up for it.

 

Despite the fact the Devils were knocked out in the first round last year, Brodeur wasn’t to blame.  He allowed just 3 goals on 51 shots over the first two games, but came away tied 1-1.  After winning Game Three, he would make 40+ saves in each of the next two games – including a 44-save shutout – but only come away with one win, and he faced 30+ shots in each of the last two losses.  He finished the playoffs with a 0.929 SV%, something that fits in well with the 0.927, 0.927 and 0,934 save percentages he recorded en route to three Stanley Cup wins.

 

In the regular season, Brodeur’s been as good as ever.  In an up and down year he still finish with a 0.916 save percentage, the fourth consecutive year he attained or surpassed that mark.  During the heart of his career, and the heart of the Devils’ success, he never managed that feat in more than two consecutive years, and only three times overall.  Based on his personal performance, he’s been a better goaltender behind a weaker team than he ever was before the lockout.

 

Given Brodeur’s age (he’ll turn 38 this summer) it’s fair to conclude that he doesn’t have much NHL time left in him; perhaps a couple of seasons, perhaps a little longer.  But based on his performance, there isn’t any reason to believe Brodeur is near the end.  He has eight 40-win seasons; four of them have come post-lockout.  He’s played more than 75  games on four occasions; three of those have come since the lockout.  He’s posted a regular season save percentage above 0.915 seven times; four of those have happened since the lockout.

 

The difference is that he isn’t playing behind a defence anchored by Scott Stevens, Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski.  He’s playing for a good team, but not a great team, not a team like the Devils were from the mid-90’s to the mid-00’s. 

 

That’s not to say Brodeur had a good playoff this year.  He struggled.  But in the grand scheme of things, it’s five games, and it would be a mistake to eulogize the goaltender’s career when he’s still one of the premiere netminders in the game.

Comments (10)

  1. I get where this is coming from the devils dont have the defense they used too but if im a devils fan im looking at brodeur, long shots seemed to continually elude him and i wouldnt blame a new jersey fan for being upset with him.

  2. You’re looking at the stats too closely. If Brodeur got more rest during the regular season, he would have played better during the playoffs. Either New Jersey doesn’t have a good backup or Brodeur is too greedy. New Jersey’s recent first round playoff exits have been very predictable. Brodeur is old and is not a great goaltender anymore

  3. I think to only focus on Brodeur is both unfair and a cop out. The only reason that the Devils were even close in game three was because of Brodeurs play. As a Flyers fan it was a great win. As a hockey fan it was a sin that the devils could net a goal for all the times Marty bailed them out in that one. Brodeur is still one of the best in the league and somewhat like the olympics is again getting thrown under the bus. The team that played in front of him just didn’t play as well as they could or should have. I hope he does stick around for a while longer, he’s still great to watch.

    Flyers Fan

  4. Weird article. Title says the demise of brodeur, yet article is doing the opposite and praising him. Fact is he’s the most overrated goalie in history and has not had any playoff success without two hall of fame dman in front of him. His whole career is a sham based on that system in nj which created the legend that never actually matched up with the man’s actual ability.

  5. WOW ” the most overrated goalie in history” ” His whole career is a sham”…thats pretty harsh dude and i’m a Flyers fan.

  6. Weird…that is just about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You could say that about just about anyone. “Hasek was overrated…didn’t win anything until he was signed by a powerhouse Detroit team that has a history of winning almost despite who is in net.” “Gretzky was overrated…didn’t win anything once he was traded away from a deep Oilers team that still won another cup without him.”

    Truth is no one guy has ever won anything by himself. Hockey is a team game, no matter how good a player you are. Now Brodeur may not be the best goaltender of all time, I certainly place him behind Roy, but he would be in anybody top 5 or 6 (considering they know what they’re talking about, and so I don’t really care about your top 5.)

  7. “Hockey is a team game, no matter how good a player you are.”

    That statement is a great one because it manages to be both incredibly accurate and also ignored by a large portion of the hockey media – both mainstream and blogosphere.

  8. I am thinking unless Jersey can rest him more in the next two years he will be done. There is no reason for him to play more then 60-65 games a year. I think its easy to see at times this season and espically in the playoffs where he just looked plan burnt. He isnt in his 20′s anymore thats for sure. And I’m sure he can still be a top notch goaltender but not at 70+ games a year, or not that much longer anyways.

  9. I’m not a jersey fan I do believe marty brodeur is great but i really think his play has deteriorated over the last few years. I’m baffled how he was nominated again for a vezina because I dont think he was even close to as good as miller was this year or a handful of other goalies. Stats do say A LOT about a players performance but I think in terms of Brodeur stats are misleading because watching some the long shots that just completely eluded him makes me wonder how his stats for the year were so good. Now to be fair do i think new jersey being upset was his fault? Absolutly not the whole team did not play well it became clear new jerseys defense was far worse than philly’s defense. So I do believe marty is not the goalie he once was. He was great over his career but his play has definatly deteriorated over the past 2-3 seasons.

  10. I love whenever I see Marty and the Devils lose lol

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