Preface/Disclaimer: think of this post not as focusing on Brodeur, Hedberg, or Brodeur versus Hedberg, but as a post about two goalies on the same team who happen to be named "Goalie X" and "Goalie Y." Why do I say this? Because I know the subject of Brodeur's play is a very touchy one; in fact, I can't think of any other subject regarding the Devils that has been more of a lightning rod (can you?). This post is not about Brodeur, but rather about two goaltenders and how they currently compare to one another. Due to the nature of this subject and the effect it seems to have on people, I have decided to make this post solely about objective evidence and hard facts. I won't be ruminating on whether or not Brodeur is "done" and I won't be commenting on his age.
Having said that, let's look at the facts and try to answer that eternally divisive question: who should be our starting goaltender right now?
I would like to approach this question by doing a little exercise. Pretend you're the coach of an NHL team. You have two goalies: "N. Bluth" and "Mr. F." Your team has already played 28 games this season, and both of your goaltenders have played enough games for you to make a valid judgment on which one should currently be your starting goaltender. Their statistics are as follows:
N. Bluth has played 16 games and has a record of 6-8-0. He has an .884 SV% and 3.18 GAA. He has let up 44 goals in 830 minutes. He has no shutouts.
Mr. F has played 15 games and has a record of 8-5-1. He has a .915 SV% and a 2.26 GAA. Despite playing 45 minutes more than N. Bluth (875 vs. 830), he has let in only 33 goals -- 11 fewer than N. Bluth. He has 2 shutouts. Oh, and he has somehow become one of the league's best shootout goaltenders, which is important because your team has gone to overtime and shootouts far too often.
So take a look at what was just written above. How could you, as a coach, possibly choose N. Bluth as your starter instead of Mr. F? N. Bluth's statistics are pretty horrid on their own, but they look even worse when compared to Mr. F's. There's only one reason why N. Bluth would continue getting more starts (or even just an equal number of starts) than Mr. F: he's a future hall-of-famer and he has been the backbone of the franchise for about 15 years. But should past achievements and importance to the franchise's history trump the wellbeing of the current team? No. Of course not. Why?
Because, at the end of the day, I think we can all agree on one thing: the only thing that matters is winning. No one player is more important than winning. If one player has played significantly better than the other over the course of 28 games, he should be playing more than that other player because the team benefits more from his play. It's that simple.
Now, I know there will be some of you who still think that Brodeur should be our starter or, at the very least, split starts with Hedberg. Now that you've read the above, I would like to ask you: why? Why should Brodeur even get to split starts with Hedberg when literally every single objective measurement and fact points to Hedberg being the better goaltender right now? Am I missing some other facts? Is there something I don't know? Because when I look at the statistics above (not to mention when I watch the games), it seems to me that the choice couldn't possibly be clearer.
Obviously I am a die-hard Devils fan and, as such, could not possibly have more respect and reverence for Brodeur. But, ultimately, what I want as a die-hard fan is to see my team win. I don't care who's in net, as long as he's playing better than the other guy. I want to see my team win more than I want to see Brodeur get more or an equal number of starts simply out of respect.
I am very interested to find out what other Devils fans are thinking. I know that this issue has been discussed on and off throughout the beginning of this season, but now that we're 28 games in and both goalies have played a significant number of games, one can now form a legitimate opinion regarding who should be our starting goaltender right now. Earlier in the season, people could still claim that Brodeur was just bouncing back, that he was just coming off an injury, that it was the start of the season and he was warming up, etc. At this point, I don't think we should still be trying to figure out which goaltender is giving us better performances. I, for one, think that's decided.
What do you think?