Stars Go Out With a Bang
By Mike Luciano (@MikeLuci)
Talk about a lengthy layoff. If the Hockey Guys was a hockey team and its writing staff comprised of its roster, where written posts were the equivalent of goals and points, I’d be that one inconsistent player everybody scratches their head over. With that said, let’s get right into it.
For any astronomy buffs out there, it’s common knowledge that the death of a star normally comprises of a supernova explosion or an implosion that forms into a black hole. Either way, the outcome is disastrous. Why not apply the same principles to hockey and more notably, to Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils? There are a lot of members in the hockey world that have pondered what business Brodeur still has as an active athlete. He’s rewritten the record books, won olympic gold medals, numerous awards, and of course, three Stanley Cups. The consensus will agree that Brodeur’s led a very decorated career, which raises the question as to when enough is truly enough?
The 2011-2012 season has not been kind to the thirty nine-year old veteran goaltender, who after last night’s (1/4/12) 6-1 loss against the Boston Bruins, presently stands at an 11-10-1 record, a 3.00 goals against, and a .888 save percentage, very uncharacteristic numbers when compared to the rest of his glamorized career. Before I raise the question that presents my main argument of this piece, I’m going to call a spade a spade when I say how Brodeur’s still-faithful (or delusional) loyalist fans presently make him one of, if not the most emphatically defended and sugarcoated athlete in the hockey world. Furthermore, whatever you make of this piece and whatever conclusions you draw up yourself, let me also say how I was one of those fans that took Brodeur’s play for granted over the years, but cherished and appreciated everything he’s accomplished in a Devils uniform and everything he’s done for this organization. Whether Brodeur still thinks he has a little gas left in the tank or is just riding out the final season of his contact, he deserves to be carried by the rest of the team for a change after doing it for so many years himself.
One of the most popular topics that’s circulated around Devil Land over the past few years is how the Devils will handle the highly anticipated Post-Brodeur Era. Many Devils fans apply the literal meaning of this inevitable and indefinite era’s title, believing the Post-Brodeur Era will begin when Marty decides to call it a career. For me, I believe the Post-Brodeur Era begins when Marty’s play goes from legendary quality to subpar. After beating around the bush, I raise the question if the Post-Brodeur Era has already begun in Devil Land and has for some time now?
I believe I’ve traced the birth (one some might call premature) of the Post-Brodeur Era back to the midst of the 2009-2010 regular season. The season as a whole was ultimately a success as the Devils finished atop the Atlantic Division and second in the Eastern Conference. This reason might be why Brodeur’s decline in play may have been overlooked during that season. Brodeur’s record for the 2009 portion of this campaign was 25-10-1, while he went 20-15-6 during the 2010 portion. Since January 1st, 2010, Brodeur’s gone a combined 52-51-15 over the span of three seasons (09-10, 10-11, 11-12) in a hundred eighteen games. In his previous a hundred eighteen games before January 1st, 2010, Marty went a combined 70-33-14. (Stats courtesy of www.nhl.com)
While numbers clearly don’t lie, the next part of this piece explores why Brodeur’s career is on its present downward spiral. I’m an avid supporter of the belief that consecutive years of playing over seventy games a season in addition to consecutive playoff appearances has factored immensely in the wear and tear he’s endured to this point. Add a very faulty defense that’s currently combined for a minus thirty-five on a team that presently ranks fourteenth in the league with three hundred four giveaways and sports a 2.90 goals against average for the season, you’ll have the mess the Devils are currently entwined in from the forward corps down nine times out of ten. Contrary to the beliefs of some of the more ignorant critics of Brodeur who preach how he’s a beneficiary of the Devils defense-first systematic play, the Devils have manned a relatively static average of shots faced per game from season-to-season. The chart below compares the Devil’s goals against average, Brodeur’s goals against average, and the average number of shots faced per game for every season since the lockout ended.
Season GAA (Team) SA (Team) GAA (Brodeur)
11-12 2.90 27.8 3.00
10-11 2.52 26.2 2.45
09-10 2.27 27.0 2.24
08-09 2.52 29.5 2.41
07-08 2.35 27.5 2.17
06-07 2.35 28.4 2.18
05-06 2.74 29.3 2.57
-Statistics courtesy of www.nhl.com
Keep in mind that during this six-year span, the Devils ranked as high as first (10-11) to as low as tenth (05-06) in average shots faced per game. The bulk of these years were arguably some of Brodeur’s best when his team did not qualify for a Stanley Cup Finals appearance.