Let me lay out a few things before I get to the controversial part of my post.
There have been many positives in the first few games of this new season, but Hedberg may be the most amazing. Don't misinterpret that statement; it's not that the other positives aren't wonderful, but rather that Hedberg may be the most surprising to many and more crucial than others. I know that I, for one, am not surprised by Hedberg's play. I had always felt that his depressed stats throughout most of his career was due largely to the fact that he was relegated to terrible teams with defensive play equalling even less than the very small sum of their parts. I believe that he proved this theory true last season, and he looks to be doing it again.
Hedberg has played three games and is 3-0-0. He has stopped every shot in two shootouts. He has, at crucial times, stood on his head and played at a level that matches every single one of the league's best goalies.
He has...drumroll please...a .945 save percentage and 1.41 GAA. Tim Thomas finished last season with a .938 S%, which, if I'm not mistaken, was the highest in NHL history. In short, Hedberg is playing like a damn legend. Oh, and let's not forget that he's 38 years old and is showing athleticism that would lead one to think he was 25.
Of course, I am in no way suggesting that stats like this are tenable over the course of a season. What I am suggesting is that last year's very good play was no fluke (and many considered it to be because of his previous history) and that if Hedberg remained our starter all year, we wouldn't just have competent goaltending, but some of the best in the league. Again, he won't keep these stats up, but that's only because it is literally impossible for a goalie to do so, ever. Can he come close? I don't just believe he can, I am as close to certain as I can possibly be.
I remember many fans on this site being unhappy with signing Hedberg again for $1.25 million, while I remained one of his strongest supporters. There were people who said he wasn't worth it; people who said his play last season was merely an anomaly; people who said he would be one year older and, even if his 2010-11 play wasn't a fluke, his abilities would deteriorate this season.
So, this leads me to the controversial part of my post: I don't mind Brodeur being out. Unless Kincaid proves to be an inept backup -- something that I sincerely doubt will be the case -- we have a capable backup and, more importantly, we have a clear starting goaltender that would be considered the cream of the crop right now if his name wasn't Johan Hedberg. (EDIT: via Tom Gullitti, Brodeur may be ready to play backup to Hedberg by tomorrow night, so Kincaid won't be in that role for more than one or two games, if any. Gulliti posted it on his Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/#!/TGfireandice)
How do you feel about what I've said here? Do you think Hedberg is just the bees knees, or do you see something that I don't? How much will his stats drop from their current level?
Here's the million dollar question: we have five games in nine days coming up. Hedberg will play at least three. If he continues to play like the god of goaltending, do you continue to ride the wave and sit Brodeur when he heals from his injury?
Please let me know what you think! This could turn out to be a very interesting discussion.