While Martin Brodeur returned to regular starting duty in November, it didn't go well. It continued in December, and while some of the numbers improved, Brodeur didn't do so hot then either. Especially after some of the games in those two months, there was a rising outcry for Johan Hedberg to get more minutes. It made sense at first. Hedberg did well in October in place of an injured Brodeur. He wasn't as great in November but he did get a shutout in one of his four apperances so there was reason to believe that the Moose should have been unleashed more. He did get more minutes in December, however his performances didn't do a great job of convincing many that he should play more.
|December 2011 - Johan Hedberg||6||332||3||2||0||16||2.89||156
Hedberg did come in relief of Brodeur twice in December, so he only started four of the six appearances and got the decision in five of those games. Still, the numbers aren't pretty. Giving up 16 goals in the amount of time he played doesn't look good for anyone. In fact, his overall save percentage in December was similar to Brodeur's. Again, it's a smaller population size but in retrospect, it highlights that neither goaltender was really standing on their heads at the time. There really wasn't a better option then.
Of course, that's what we see in the bigger picture. This entire review is to look closely at the events that painted this picture: the goals allowed themselves. How many of these goals allowed did Hedberg have a fair chance at and should have stopped? How many of them featured some kind of error by his teammates? Where did the goals get past them? Please set your viewing to wide and let's learn what happened on the goals Hedberg allowed in December 2011 after the jump.
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 16 Goals Allowed by Johan Hedberg in December 2011: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft Goal?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|12/2||28||Just over the glove||Brodziak steals it from Kovalchuk and he's off on a breakaway. He finishes it glove side. 4-on-4 GA.||Yes||Link||Kovalchuk|
|12/3||29||Past his left side||Byfuglien fires a wrist shot, Kane deflects it right next to Hedberg.||No||Link|
|12/3||30||On the right flank||Hedberg collects a clearance and fires it to Kovalchuk. He misses and Little has it. Little fires it to Burmistrov for a one-timer. SHGA. SC.||Yes||Link|
|12/3||31||Off his stick, through the legs||Stuart drives in from the left point and throws a puck to the top of the crease. It bounces off Hedberg's stick and in.||Yes||Link|
|12/8||32||Over the left shoulder||Alfredsson one-time slapshot a pass from Karlsson over Hedberg's shoulder, possibly through traffic. PPGA.||No||Link|
|12/8||33||Past the left of a fallen goalie||After a non-call on a hold, Alfredsson attempts a shot through traffic. It gets stopped, Winchester takes it, goes right and slides it in low. 4-on-4 SHGA. SC.||No||Link|
|12/12||34||Low, through the legs||Gilroy draws the attention, he passes it across the slot to Downie, who one-times it past a sliding Hedberg. SC.||No||Link||Palmieri|
|12/12||35||Past the right of a fallen goalie||Long pass from Gilroy and a one-touch from Malone springs Jones free. He caught Urbom flat-footed, got past him, got around Hedberg and scored. SC.||Yes||Link||Urbom|
|12/12||36||Top corner, over the glove||Botched clearance ends up with Stamkos playing give and go with Moore to front of crease. Stamkos slams it in. PPGA. SC.||No||Link||Elias
|12/12||37||Over the right shoulder||Kubina sees the traffic, passes it to Stamkos in the circle, who hammers a one-timer past a moving Hedberg.
|12/16||38||Low, on the goalie's left flank||Ericsson beats a diving Hedberg to his left but he hits the post. The puck rebounds to Ryder in the slot who puts a turnaround shot back into the empty net. SC.||No||Link||Zajac|
|12/16||39||Low, on the goalie's left flank||Play out of the corner finds Ribiero in the left circle. He sees Morrow on the right post uncovered, hits him with a pass, and Morrow pots it in. SC.||No||Link||Larsson|
|12/16||40||Low, through the legs||Souray fires a wrist shot from the right point, Petersen deflects it amid traffic past Hedberg and in.||No||Link|
|12/26||41||Over the right shoulder||Gleason chips out a rebound and it goes off Kovalchuk. Sutter takes it, rushes up ice on a 2-on-1 and fires one off the right post and in. SHGA||Yes||Link||Kovalchuk|
|12/26||42||Over the fallen goaltender's right side||Gleason's shot is stopped from distance; chaos in front leads to Ruutu getting the puck without coverage on the right side. He puts it up and over Hedberg. SC.||No||Link|
|12/26||43||Over the right shoulder||Stewart takes Nodl's pass in the neutral zone and heads up to the outside of the dot. He fires a wrist shot that beats Hedberg shortside.||Yes||Link|
Location of Goals Allowed
All locations are relative to Hedberg himself, not necessarily where the puck goes into the net. It's pretty simplistic, but it'll do for general information.
Out of the 16 goals Hedberg allowed, I counted 6 to be goals that he should have stopped. Given the smaller population size in terms of minutes and appearances, that's just not good. It's not even average. What's worse is that only 8 of these goals came from shots that were in the area of what is called a scoring chance. I didn't count the two deflections as scoring chances since, well, they're just deflections. Still, Hedberg gave up eight goals on non-scoring chance shots in December. Four of those eight were soft goals, which furthers the notion that Hedberg wasn't good at all in that month.
You may disagree with what I termed as soft, though, which would make his month look a little better. While it's certainly not Hedberg's fault that Ilya Kovalchuk lost the puck on GA #28, Hedberg made his move and just got plain beat on an open shot. A similar event - open shot in a tough situation that he didn't stop - happened for GA #41. Likewise, it's not Hedberg's fault Alexander Urbom got torched on GA #35, Hedberg went aggressive by going down and lateral. That's a play where he's got to knock the puck away or something, he didn't, so he got scored on. While he got beaten on the flank on GA #30, it never would have happened without Hedberg making a poor pass that never really got to Kovalchuk. Yeah, I know, Hedberg making a mistake with the puck outside of the crease. That mistake led to that GA, so I tagged him for that. At first glance, GA #31 looked like a fluke, but Hedberg's form was poor and the fact he let his stick out so weakly that he really could have done much better. I had to tag him for that. Lastly, he got beat on a wide shot by giving up a gaping hole over his shoulder on GA #43. Why he giving that up by leaning in that spot, I don't know; but it was a poor goal to allow. The common thread on these soft goals were bad decisions by Hedberg, either by making the first move which exposed him or just not in form.
Still, while 6 out of 16 doesn't look good, most of the goals still weren't his fault. He definitely, absolutely, without-a-doubt had no chance on the three goals allowed on Scott Niedermayer night (GA #38, 39, 40). GA #38 was just an example of some poor defending by all the Devils, though Travis Zajac getting lost in coverage was the most damaging in my though. It also featured how a bad a bounce can get - right off the post and right to the Star in the high slot. Hedberg also got beaten by other one-timers (other than GAs #30 and 39) where he had no real chance such as Daniel Alfredsson converting a two-man advantage through traffic for GA #32; Steve Downie firing one next to the dot onfor GA #34 (note: Nick Palmieri, that was your man); and Steven Stamkos making Devils fans nervous with a late strike for GA #37. One-timers are difficult to stop and there's no shame in those goals allowed. The only one I punished was GA #30 and that was because of what Moose did before the shot.
Incidentally, if you want to get angry, feel free to watch GA #32. This was the late, three-seconds-left equalizer in the game against Ottawa. Right at the beginning of the video, you'll see Henrik Tallinder hauled down by Chris Phillips. It was all kinds of illegal and yet play continued. Seriously. That's what led to the Senators getting the puck, which led to Alfredsson firing a hopeful shot on net, it bounced around, and Brad Winchester curled around Hedberg for the goal. I know this was a regular season game in December, I know the Devils eventually won that game, and it ultimately didn't have any bearing on the Devils' season. I intentionally do this review in the summer to minimize the emotional response of watching the Devils get scored on in all kinds of ways. Still, it was an absolutely ridiculous non-call and I'm still got miffed about seeing it. Of course, the goal wasn't Hedberg's fault. There never should've been a shot but apparently the refs decided tackling was legal for the final 10 seconds of regulation. Bah.
Anyway, to wrap up, the location of the goals allowed were all over the place. Three different zones led the group with three goals against each. I will admit the two deflection goals allowed (GAs #29, 40) were hard to pin point but I did my best. Still, it doesn't appear to me that opponents have found a lot of success targeting Hedberg for goals allowed. After watching all 16 goals allowed, I think players were just focusing on where the gaps were as the play happened.
Now that you've seen some or all of the goals against and you got my opinion on them, I want to know what you think. Do you agree with my count of six soft goals? If not, then which ones did you disagree with and why? Did I miss any others? What did you think of the other goals? How about the skaters I named as making errors? Does the non-call that before GA #32 still bother you? Overall, what did you think of Hedberg's play in December? Please leave your answers and all other thoughts about Hedberg's play in December in the comments. Thank you for reading.