Foreground: How a goaltender may look after a soft goal allowed. Background: Players celebrate goals of all kinds the same - with hugs. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The month of November wasn't kind to Martin Brodeur or the goal he tended for the New Jersey Devils. As it turned out, the 31 goals allowed in 10 games would be the worst of it. Even if about 80% of them weren't his fault, it's still 31 times he was beaten. As it turned out, that would be his low point in that regard in 2011-12. The team did much better in December in terms of results. They went 9-5 and while they still had some missteps, the team showed then that they can be good. They cut down on some silly mistakes, the top two lines were very productive, and they kept finding ways to bounce back from losses with wins. That doesn't mean that Brodeur was that much better in December 2011, though. His stats in the month still left something to be desired.
|December 2011 - Martin Brodeur||10||517||6||3||0||22||2.55||218||196||.899||0|
Sure, 22 goals allowed in 10 games is a lot better than 31 allowed in 10 games. Brodeur had some fine performances in December. And, hey, 6-3 is better than 5-5. However, Brodeur still fell under 90% in save percentage, it took until the end of the month until he had a performance where he only got beaten once, and he got yanked in two games. He had some poor incidents where some more fans than usual were clamoring for Johan Hedberg to take over. No, he wasn't awful, but he wasn't where one would like him to be in terms of the numbers - especially in conjunction with how he did in November.
Therefore, let's look at the 22 goals that Brodeur allowed in December. How many of them were soft? Where was he beaten the most? What kind of errors happened that led to these goals allowed? I've got the results after the jump and some of the answers may surprise you.
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/or the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If the goal allowed qualifies, then I deemed the goal as "soft." In fact, the very last bit alone can make the difference in what is and is not a soft goal (e.g. first goal against by Hedberg).
In addition, I have denoted skater errors by player and scoring chances by "SC" in the goal description. I assigned a skater error if the player did something significantly wrong that led to the goal such as a turnover or not covering their man. As for scoring chances, that's dependent on where the shot was fired. Anything between the two faceoff dots towards the top of the crease would count. Anything outside of that has not. I've erred against counting a chance if it's borderline, for what it's worth.
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 when you click on them.
The 22 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in December 2011: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft GA?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|12/2||36||Past the glove||Bad bounce past Kovalchuk led to a 2-on-1 with Heatley and Koivu; Heatley elected to shoot and scored.||Yes||Link|
|12/2||37||Over the fallen body of Brodeur||Kovalchuk spills and loses the puck, Brodziak takes it in, beats Volchenkov, gets stopped on the first shot, but backhands a rebound in. SC.||No||Link||Kovalchuk
|12/2||38||Low, between the legs||Wild win faceoff, Bouchard gets it, passes it to Cullen for a one-timer and Wellman re-directs it in low.||No||Link|
|12/6||39||Over the glove||Lupul throws the puck to the crease, and it bounces off the boot of Kessel's skate to go up and over Brodeur's glove.||No||Link|
|12/6||40||Past the glove||Frattin gets into Devils' zone, torches Larsson, and fires one to the far post and in. SC.||Yes||Link||Larsson|
|12/8||41||Past his left pad||Spezza takes a soft clearance and puts a shot on net. Brodeur stopped that but not Michalek slamming in the rebound.||Yes||Link|
|12/8||42||Over the glove of a fallen goaltender||Cowan gained the zone and fired a shot Brodeur stopped. Two Devils crashed the net as Foligno got the puck and put it over the fray to score. SC.||No||Link||Tedenby
|12/10||43||Over the glove, top right corner||Pacioretty unleashed a one-timer above the slot that picked the right corner of the goal. PPGA.||No||Link||Parise|
|12/10||44||Low, behind the goaltender||Brodeur denies a Darche one-timer, but doesn't collect the rebound. Fayne whiffs and Cole stashes it in. SC.||No||Link||Fayne|
|12/13||45||On goalie's left flank||Larsson gives it away blindly to Weiss, Weiss goes left, dishes to Versteeg on the right for the easy one-timer. SC.||No||Link||Larsson|
|12/13||46||Over the glove||Versteeg steals it from Tallinder and is off on a breakaway. He finishes it. SC. SHGA||Yes||Link||Tallinder|
|12/17||47||Low, possibly through legs||Subban winds up for a one-timer and it gets through traffic and by Brodeur. PPGA.||No||Link|
|12/17||48||Past the glove||Campoli winds up for a snapshot that gets past Brodeur's glove.||Yes||Link||Larsson|
|12/17||49||Past the glove||Gill feeds Eller in the high-slot. He winds up for a snap shot that gets by the screen and into the net.||No||Link||Sykora|
|12/20||50||Past the right pad||Stepan is driven to the corner, but gets a pass off to a cutting Anisimov at the crease. Anisimov one-times it in. SC.||No||Link|
|12/20||51||On the goalie's right flank||Anisimov's shot hits the post, off Brodeur, and it bounces behind him to Gaborik - who puts it in. SC.||Yes||Link||Taormina|
|12/20||52||Over the glove||Hard dump-in was cleared, couldn't be kept in by Kovalchuk and Hagelin took it up on 2-on-1. He kept it and ripped it. SHGA. SC.||Yes||Link|
|12/23||53||Low, through legs||Hamrlik to Laich to Ovechkin to Wideman to open Laich who backhands it in while cutting across. SC.||No||Link||Salvador
|12/23||54||Low, through pads||Open Chimera gets it at left post, as bodies converge, he jams and gets it in. SC.||No||Link||Volchenkov
|12/23||55||On the goalie's left flank||Semin shot is stopped, Laich gets to rebound and attempts a no-look pass. It found Chimera for an easy one-timer. SC.||No||Link||Zajac|
|12/28||56||On the goalie's left flank||Leopold's shot from the right point is stopped by Brodeur. Vanek is right at the crease to take the rebound and put it past his left pad. PPGA. SC.||No||Link||Volchenkov|
|12/31||57||Under the stick||Niskanen fires a slapshot from the point that misses the net. It comes off the endboards and Cooke slams it in before Brodeur dove to his right. PPGA. SC.||No||Link||Tallinder|
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.
Out of all 22 goals, I counted 7 soft goals. Given that Brodeur gave up 6 soft ones out of 31 last month, this certainly doesn't reflect well on how Brodeur did in December. I'm sure I'll get disagreement in calling both shorthanded goals against, GAs #46 and 52, as soft. However, upon reviewing both, Brodeur saw the shot the whole way and just got beat. It's not like Kris Versteeg (GA #46) or Carl Hagelin (GA #52) did anything particularly fancy to score. They just went at Brodeur and beat him glove side. If you feel that way, then that would make 5 soft goals out of 22, which is an improvement but not really much of one. It's still 22% of all goals, which is not much more than his rate of soft goals came in November.
The most infamous of the bunch was GA #51. While I did tag Matt Taormina with an error for not picking up Marian Gaborik, then the Rangers' top scorer if I recall correctly, coming across him, that was an ugly one. Brodeur misplayed initial shot, it trickled through behind him, and Gaborik put in one of the easiest goals of his season. Combined with the fact that this happened against Our Hated Rivals and it was the eventual game winner, and it's easy to see why there was so much criticism against Brodeur. I was hot about the game then, especially about that goal. Thankfully, it's all in the past.
As for the other soft ones, GA #36 kicked off an ugly start for the Devils where Brodeur gave up 3 goals on 8 shots. Like the two shorthanded goals against, Brodeur saw Heatley all the way but just got beat. That one was the only one that was really his fault unless you want to blame Brodeur for not being able to bail out his skaters while on his side for a rebound (GA #37) and a deflection right in front (GA #38). That was the first game Brodeur started but didn't finish in December. I thought Brodeur was caught in too deep on Matt Frattin's effort on GA #40, though I felt Adam Larsson messed up more on that play. The rebound Milan Michalek slammed in on GA #41 wasn't soft itself, but the soft dump-in around the corner by Brodeur led to it so I'm faulting him in that special case. Lastly, GA #48 wouldn't have happened if Larsson didn't drop his stick, but a snap shot from the outside of the circle really is a stoppable shot. It's not like Chris Campoli has a cannon.
Speaking of, glove side was where most of the goals allowed came from in December. Ten of them were up in that range and most of them weren't very high; seven were in that mid-range below the corner but above the pad. Three went high with GA #43 being the most impressive of the shots. Interestingly, nobody beat him high on the right side in December. Lower shots were more prevalent in terms of height, mostly powered by rebounds and other bounces.
While the team as a whole played better, there were some wonderfully bad mistakes by some of the skaters that led to quite a few of these goals against in December. Here are a few of the "highlights." GA #37 featured a two-fer: Ilya Kovalchuk giving up the puck and Anton Volchenkov getting torched. There were a few GAs where I called out two skaters. Seeing Mattias Tedenby and Mark Fraser crash the net and ignore the eventual goal scorer on GA #42 was heinous. I tabbed both defenders on GA #53 for their non-coverage on seemingly everyone on that play. As pretty as that play was - and it was a very pretty play - how do you let two opposing players get behind you? Poor Brodeur never had a chance. Likewise, I remain baffled at the lack of coverage on Chimera and Laich on GA #54, particularly by Volchenkov and Kurtis Foster. Maybe I should have named all five skaters as those Caps apparently had a force field on the play? As for single errors, GA #40 highlighted Larsson getting torched; GA #44 showcased that a whiff on a loose puck by the crease can be disastrous; and GA #57 featured Tallinder putting himself in a position where he couldn't defend the shot or the guy behind him who banged in the loose puck. Throw in some good non-coverages (e.g. Travis Zajac on GA #55) and there you are.
Getting back to the month as a whole, one could make a case that this was worse than November. While the team got results, Brodeur wasn't necessarily the reason for them. While he had two one-goal-against games where he did well (GAs #56 and 57 weren't his fault), he got yanked early in two games where the first one allowed was a stoppable shot. While his save percentage was improved as a whole, a larger share of the goals allowed were soft ones than in November. It's debatable. What isn't was the fact that Brodeur wasn't performing as well as usual. Even after 10 games in November to get back into form, Brodeur didn't make much of an improvement. That came far later, which further suggests that he certainly struggled in the first few months of the season.
Hopefully after taking all this in, watching the video, and considering the goals allowed, I now want to know what you think. Do you agree with the seven soft goals I identified? Do you think I missed any? Do you think other skaters should have been called out for making errors on some of these other goals allowed? Am I off in what I called a scoring chance, and if so, how would you like me to adjust for next week? What did you learn from the 22 goals Brodeur allowed in December? Was this a worse month for Brodeur than November despite an improved save percentage? Please leave your answers and other thoughts in the comments. Thank you for reading.