The month of March 2011 contained a dose of reality for the New Jersey Devils. They kept their winning ways through the beginning of the month, but like all good things, it came to an end. It's not so much the team reverted to how they did from September through December 2010; just didn't constantly get wins. Luck ran out in some games, despite how well the Devils did. In others, the Devils just struggled to score but didn't completely embarrass themselves in the process.
While the team picked up more losses in March brought New Jersey down from their massive run, they didn't bring Martin Brodeur down. In fact, I'd say that March was his best month in 2010-11. I even named him the Devil of the Month back then. While his numbers were better in February, he only played in 4 of those games. Brodeur started all 14 games in March and put up an impressive statline amid both wins and losses.
|March 2011 - Martin Brodeur||14||859||8
To put this in perspective, recall that Brodeur got beaten 31 times in 12 appearances in October and 29 times in 9 appearances in December. Also recall that in reviewing each of those months, the majority of those goals against were not Brodeur's fault - they were mostly non-soft goals. It's been that way for every month reviewed so far. Will that be the case for March, the busiest month Brodeur has played in from last season? After the jump, let's review the 24 goals allowed and come to some conclusions. Please set your viewing to wide to see the entire chart, too.
About the Review
The main thing I'm looking for in this review are "soft goals," those goals against that should have been stopped by the goaltender. Here's how I am defining a soft goal. The goalie must have seen the shot coming; the shot was not deflected or change otherwise in motion; the goalie was in position to actually make the stop; and the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If all were true, then I deemed the goal as "soft." In fact, the very last bit alone can make the difference between a soft goal or not.
I also want to highlight the last column in the following list: Skater Error. Did askater do something seriously wrong on the play that led to the goal? If so, their name (or names) end up on the chart. I could be picky and call them out for every goal, but I'm only highlighting who's actions or lack thereof contributed to the goal against. There will be goals where multiple skaters screw up, so you may see more than one name. I'm tracking this to see who was commonly at fault, assuming it means anything. As with the goals against themselves, feel free to discuss this too.
Lastly, I have provided links to the video I looked at for each goal from NHL.com. These links will auto-play the video, so be forewarned.
The 24 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in March 2011: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft Goal?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|3/2/2011||94||Low, past right pad||Kubina fires a shot from the left circle, it deflects off Moore's skate and beats Brodeur past his right pad PPGA||No||Link|
|3/4/2011||95||High, over Brodeur's left shoulder||Kovalchuk's pass is blocked by the linesman's skates, which bounces to Kennedy. Kennedy drives in and fires a shot over Brodeur's left arm||Yes||Link|
|3/6/2011||96||Just past the glove||Parenteau sets up Nielsen in front, Nielsen is blocked out, but the puck is knocked to the left. Bailey pounces on it and puts it past a diving Brodeur PPGA||No||Link|
|3/6/2011||97||Under the right pad||Fayne tries to clear the puck but it bounces off Steckel's skate. Comeau takes the loose puck in the slot and beats Brodeur far post||No||Link|
|3/8/2011||98||Past the left side||Shannon finds Condra driving to the net; Brodeur stops Condra's first shot off his shoulder, the puck pops up and Condra dives to knock it in low||No||Link||Fayne|
|3/8/2011||99||Through the legs||Spezza circles at the point, sees Condra driving to the net and places a near-perfect pass right at the top of the crease. Condra re-directs the puck in||No||Link||Palmieri|
|3/11/2011||100||Under the glove||3-on-3 becomes 3-on-2 when Palmieri leaves Wheeler. Ladd finds Wheeler at the right circle; who fires a shot that beats sliding Brodeur||No||Link||Palmieri|
|3/11/2011||101||Over two fallen bodies, under the crossbar||Byfuglien unloads a big slapshot from the left point, Antropov crashes into Brodeur, and the puck sails in over the bodies. PPGA||No||Link|
|3/12/2011||102||Just past the glove||Blocked shot leads to 2-on-1 led by Comeau; Comeau gets around Rolston's lazy defending, forces Brodeur to dive to his right, and beats him SHGA||Yes||Link||Rolston|
|3/12/2011||103||Over the right pad||MacDonald fires a slapshot, Tavares deflects it over the right pad, off the post and into the net||No||Link|
|3/15/2011||104||On the right flank||Kane finds Stapleton wide open on the wing, Stapleton one-times it past Brodeur's desperate pad stack||No||Link||Salmela|
|3/15/2011||105||Under the right arm||Thornburn goes to the corner, cuts into the middle, fires a shot through Tallinder's legs and under Brodeur's arm||Yes||Link|
|3/17/2011||106||Over Brodeur's left shoulder||Spezza fires a slapshot from the right circle, Shannon deflects it right in front over Brodeur PPGA||No||Link|
|3/17/2011||107||High, well over Brodeur's right shoulder||Karlsson fires a shot from the left boards, Neil deflects the puck up into an arc that sails over a scrambling Brodeur and drops over the goal line||No||Link|
|3/18/2011||108||High, over Brodeur's glove||Knuble finds Schultz sneaking into the high slot; Schultz blasts a one-timer to the top left corner||No||Link||Clarkson|
|3/18/2011||109||Low, past right side||Ovechkin finds Carlson open on the left side, catching the Devils by utter surprise. Carlson finds Knuble right in front for a one-timer on Brodeur's right||No||Link||Rolston
|3/18/2011||110||On the left flank||Ovechkin streaks down the right side, passes it to a streaking Knuble, whose one-timer is faster than Brodeur can laterally move||No||Link|
|3/22/2011||111||Deflected shot||Seidenberg fires a shot from the left point into traffic, Thornton deflects it past Brodeur's right||No||Link|
|3/22/2011||112||On right flank||Lucic finds Chara on a backdoor play, Chara one-times it on Brodeur's right flank PPGA||No||Link|
|3/22/2011||113||Under the right arm||Bergeron finds Lucic in the right circle all alone; Lucic smacks a one-timer that beats Brodeur||No||Link||Salmela|
|3/26/2011||114||Over the glove||Gerbe takes puck from Josefson, and passes to front. Boyes is stopped, Gaustad is stopped, rebound bounces to Gerbe on the right flank who fires it over Brodeur's glove||No||Link||Josefson|
|3/26/2011||115||On right flank||Pominville's shot from the left circle is stopped, rebound goes right to Vanek at the front of the crease. Easy put-back||No||Link||Palmieri|
|3/30/2011||116||Over the fallen glove||Tedenby coughs up puck in neutral zone and Nielsen takes it in for a breakaway. Backhands it in SHGA||No||Link||Tedenby|
|3/30/2011||117||To his right||Martin carries the puck in and attempts a wraparound. A resulting scrum in front ends with Nielsen knocking the puck in.||No||Link|
Out of 24 goals allowed (GAs), I only counted 3 soft goals, 12.5% of all GAs from this month. This surprised me, but there were a lot of shots coming at either point-blank range like off a rebound, or fired point-blank like a shot from a one-timer (e.g. 108) or a deflection (e.g. GA #106). There were also just a couple of bad breaks, like the bounce from GA #107, the second fluke goal Chris Neil scored on Brodeur and Nik Antropov plowing into Brodeur which helped GA #101 happen. Such was the month.
As for the soft ones themselves, let's break each down quickly. The first was GA #95 and I was on the fence since the whole play was created because a linesman got in the way. Ilya Kovalchuk was trying to make a pass in the defensive zone, the linesman got in his path and the puck bounced off the official's skates right to Tim Kennedy. While it was a fortunate bounce for Kennedy, Brodeur was in position to make a stop and he didn't. GA #102 featured some pretty soft defending by Brian Rolston, but Brodeur over-committed when Blake Comeau cut into the slot on his shorthanded try. As a result, Comeau had a pretty easy shot to finish the play. Lastly, Brodeur was caught not along the post for GA #105. While Christopher Thorburn fired it between Henrik Tallinder's legs - implying a kind of screen - the shot was close enough for Brodeur to see it and Thorburn was coming in along the goal line from the right side. The goalie should be hugging that post as he approaches, Brodeur didn't, and he paid the price. Even on what I termed as soft goals, they weren't very clear cut. That speaks to how well the month went for Brodeur.
In terms of errors, I just want to re-emphasize the importance of a backchecking player knowing their assignment. Most of the errors were simply the skater not picking up their man accordingly. David Clarkson decides to shadow Alexander Ovechkin on the play that became GA #108, which left a lane and Jeff Schultz wide open enough to come into the high slot. All three of Nick Palmieri's errors involved making a costly decision on who to cover, which left the eventual goal scorer open on GAs #99, 100, and 115. Anssi Salmela got caught in a similar fashion on GAs #104 and 113. This sort of problem can and will hang goaltenders out to dry almost as bad as a turnover - like Mattias Tedenby's miserable giveaway that Frans Nielsen turned into GA #116. That all said, there weren't any skater errors on 13 of the 24 goals allowed this month. Even in this regard, March was a big improvement.
Location of Goals Allowed
All locations are relative to Brodeur himself, not necessarily where the puck goes into the net. It's pretty simplistic, but it'll do for general information.
It just so happened that going low and to Brodeur's right occurred a lot in March, followed by getting past the glove side with a lot of height. I find that to be an interesting occurrence since they're so apart from each other in terms of location. In any case, March was also interesting in that low shots and high shots yielded the same amount of goals with those of medium height not lagging too far behind. It was very even, despite the number of re-directions, one-timers, put-backs, and other kinds of goals.
Unlike in February, Martin Brodeur played a lot in March and came out pretty well statistically. Over all 14 games, he averaged less than 2 goals per game and on top of that, all but 3 goals allowed were soft. Even the soft ones weren't as awful as ones in past months. All things told, March was good for Brodeur - even if the team's hot play cooled off. Tomorrow will feature the final month of Brodeur's 2010-11 season. Until then, I want to know your take. How do you think Brodeur did in March? Do you agree with what I found among all 24 goals, or do you think there were some other soft goals and/or skater errors that I missed? Please leave your answers and other relevant thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.