January 9, 2007

MARTIN IN THE MIDDLE:

Brodeur Is Better Than Ever, But Is He Overused? (KEVIN GREENSTEIN, January 9, 2007, NY Sun)

It seems like only yesterday that Martin Brodeur was a 21-year-old rookie backstopping the upstart Devils to the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. But Brodeur, now 34 years old and in his 13th season, has evolved into one of the elder statesmen of the NHL's goaltending fraternity. Although he toils in relative obscurity for the fan-starved Devils, Brodeur will without question go down as one of the finest goaltenders in league history.

Earlier in his career, Brodeur's success was chalked up to good fortune. He was fortunate to play in a system that significantly reduced the number of quality scoring chances he faced. He was fortunate to play behind Scott Stevens and Scott Niedermayer, two of the NHL's finest defensemen. He was fortunate to play for an excellent hockey team year after year, its roster carefully assembled by master tactician Lou Lamoriello. He was fortunate to play for the Devils in New Jersey, where there was never a danger of the press driving him to distraction.

But in the post-lockout NHL, it has become apparent that it has in fact been the Devils who have been the fortunate ones all along.

Stevens and Niedermayer are long gone, and so are many of the other players perceived to be so crucial to the Devils' success. Upon Niedermayer's exit, Lamoriello made what were likely the biggest blunders of his 20-year reign, signing over-the-hill Russians Alexander Mogilny and Vladimir Malakhov to contracts that have handcuffed the Devils for the past two years. This season, the Devils are icing what is without question their most inexperienced lineup since Brodeur took over the starting job during the 1994 playoffs.

And yet, the team keeps on winning. In his last 16 games dating back to December 1, Brodeur has compiled an eye-popping 13-3 record. During that stretch, he has given up only 31 goals (under two goals a game) and has posted four shutouts. Put simply, as the Devils' dynasty has been stripped down to its core, it has become abundantly clear that its core is Brodeur.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 9, 2007 7:39 AM
Comments

Thanks for the hockey post, OJ. I don't think there are many hockey fans out there, but if there are how about some votes on the best goalies ever? Or, at least for those of us of a certain age, at least the best in the post expansion (1967-present) era. I'd have to put Brodeur at the top, followed by Hasek, Roy, Dryden and Vachon.

Posted by: Foos at January 9, 2007 3:29 PM

Can't blame Belfour for being a Blackhawk, can we?

Posted by: oj at January 9, 2007 4:17 PM
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