For a little more than half of the teams in the National Hockey League, the month of April is more than just the end of the regular season. It's also the beginning of the playoffs. From 1996 through 2010, the New Jersey Devils were consistently playing beyond the first week of the month. While they didn't always get out of the first round, they had more than their fair share of successes. In 2012, the Devils secured the #6 seed in the Eastern Conference after missing the playoffs in 2010-11 in advance of their three regular season games in April. As we know now, went all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals. To get there, they had to battle through a contentious series with the Florida Panthers that took up much of the month. We can laugh about it now, but back then, the worries of another first round exit were real - especially in those overtime periods in the last two games.
As the 2011-12 season continued, Martin Brodeur was utilized as the #1 goaltender on the team. He didn't have a good month until February, where he got hot and put up some great numbers. March wasn't so bad, either; but most will remember the postseason as Brodeur's time to shine. In combining his two regular season appearances with his eight playoff games, Brodeur put up a save percentage just a touch below his February performance.
|April 2012 - Martin Brodeur||10||594||6||3||0||21||2.12||273||252||.923||1|
Brodeur's stat line looks great for the month and over the Florida series, he did post up a 92.2% save percentage. It should be said the numbers for the month are boosted by those last two games (3 goals allowed on 57 shots) along with a shutout in Game 4 and strong performances overall in Games 1, 5, and 7 against Florida. That limited some of the damage to his stats caused by his Game 3 against Florida where he was pulled in the second period along with a statistically unfortunate Game 6 (16 shots, 2 goals allowed) against the Panthers. Overall, one can't complain too loudly about a statline like this after a season where a monthly save percentage above 90% has been the exception for Brodeur and not the rule.
However, this doesn't get into the issue of what happened on those 21 goals allowed. How many of those goals were ones that Brodeur should have stopped? Where did those shots beat him? How many came off scoring chances? Could Brodeur have been better in April than he actually was - which, don't get me wrong, was quite good? To find out the answers to these questions and more, I reviewed each of the 21 goals Brodeur allowed in the month of April. Please continue on after the jump to see a description of each goal allowed (GA) along with commentary about those goals allowed.
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 changed 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. GA #135).
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 from the top of the circles to towards the top of the crease would count. Basically, the graphic Jonathan Willis has in this article in the Edmonton Journal shows the area in question. Anything outside of that has not. I've erred against counting a chance if it's borderline, for what it's worth.
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 before you click on them.
One more thing, I have intentionally combined the regular season and playoffs for Brodeur. Since I'm just looking at goals allowed, I don't think the opponent or the time of the season really matters all that much. GAs are GAs. Nevertheless, for those who are interested in where it splits, everything from GA #137 onward was in the playoffs.
The 21 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in April 2012: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|4/5||134||On the left flank||Filppula passes to Hudler breaking, he passes it to an open Holmstrom for an easy score. PPGA. SC.||No||Link|
|4/7||135||Low, under the left skate||Gilroy heads into the corner and slings a low wrist shot on net. Brodeur attempts to kick it and misses.||Yes||Link|
|4/7||136||Over the left shoulder||Condra fires a cross-ice pass, Bernier taps it down, O'Brien gets it on the flank. He unleashes a high shot that gets in.||No||Link||Bernier|
|4/13||137||Low, past the right pad||Bergenheim carries it in, burns Volchenkov, drives to the crease, and curls it in past Brodeur. SC.||No||Link||Volchenkov|
|4/13||138||Low, through the legs||Versteeg gets it at the right post, curls in, and puts it in through the five-hole. PPGA. SC.||Yes||Link||Volchenkov|
|4/15||139||Past the glove||Samuelsson's shot is stopped by Brodeur, an open Weiss smacks in the rebound. PPGA. SC.||No||Link|
|4/15||140||Over the glove||Goc takes a shot and it's stopped by Brodeur, an open Weiss roofs the rebound. PPGA.||No||Link|
|4/15||141||In between the left arm and body||Goc handles the puck, gets space and a Volchenkov screen, and shoots. Brodeur seemed to handle it but he couldn't hold on and it dropped in.||Yes||Link|
|4/17||142||Over Brodeur||Upshall fires a shot from the red line and Brodeur kicks out the shot. Bergenheim torches Volchenkov for it and fires one over Brodeur. PPGA.||Yes||Link||Volchenkov|
|4/17||143||Past the left pad||Garrison gets it at the center point and fires a low shot. Brodeur misses it. PPGA.||Yes||Link|
|4/17||144||Past the right side||Weaver fires a shot from above the right circle and it gets through the screen.||No||Link|
|4/21||145||Low, past the right pad||Weiss to Versteeg in the left corner for a one-timer - and it goes in. PPGA.||No||Link|
|4/21||146||Empty net||Brodeur comes out of his net on a dump-in; he can't play it as it's not in the trapezoid. Versteeg gets it, flips it in front, for an easy one for Upshall. SC.||Yes||Link|
|4/24||147||Over the right shoulder||Versteeg gets fed in the slot, fires one high and to the right through a screen for a score. SC.||No||Link||Ponikarovsky|
|4/24||148||On the left flank||Strachan fires a shot, the puck gets behind Brodeur to his left. Bergenheim is there to collect it and get it just inside the left post.||Yes||Link||Greene|
|4/26||149||Off the left post and in||Campbell passes it to Weiss, he one-times it from the right circle through a screen - off the post and in. PPGA.||No||Link|
|4/26||150||Under the diving glove||Bergenheim's shot is stopped, Goc pounds in the rebound as Kopecky barrels into Brodeur. PPGA. SC.||No||Link|
|4/29||151||Under the sliding player||Briere is sprung for a breakaway, and he slides one past a sliding Brodeur. SC.||No||Link||Kovalchuk
|4/29||152||Over the fallen goalie||Brodeur giveaway leads a big stop - only for van Reimsdyk to slam in the rebound over the goalie. SC.||Yes||Link|
|4/29||153||Over the sliding blocker||Timonen feeds Giroux in the left circle, who fires a blistering one-timer past the sliding goalie. PPGA.||No||Link|
|4/29||154||Low, through the legs||Voracek gets away from Zidlicky and finds Briere at the left point. He fires a slapshot and it gets through a screen. OTGA.||No||Link||Zidlicky|
Location of Goals Allowed
All locations are relative to Brodeur's position, not necessarily where the puck goes into the net. It's simplistic and generalized, but it's good for getting a count on where Brodeur was beaten for goals.
Out of the 21 goals allowed, I counted 8 as soft. That's about 38% of the month's total and that's quite high. It's the highest proportion of soft goals to total goals that I've found so far for Brodeur in 2011-12. It certainly surprised me when I tallied the results.
Going back to what I observed on the goals, perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised. After the review, I can immediately recall three pretty big gaffes by Brodeur in April. First, he whiffed on kicking the puck instead of using his stick or going low on what became GA #135. It was his last regular season soft goal and, well, it was heinous. Second, he got caught behind the net on a Florida dump-in where the puck never made it to the trapezoid. Brodeur put himself in no man's land, Kris Versteeg beat him to the puck, and Versteeg put the puck out front for the easiest playoff goal Scottie Upshall would ever score. Feel free to wince when you see GA #143. Third, Brodeur pulled a Hedberg when he played a puck behind the net right into the center of the ice to kick off the series of events that led to GA #152. The puck was intercepted and Brodeur dove to make a beautiful save; but he couldn't stop James van Reimsdyk on the rebound. I had to call it soft because it all happened because of a terrible decision by the goalie. So that's three of eight that was just uncharacteristic of a professional goaltender. All I could say more about them was "Really, Marty? Really?"
The other five soft ones weren't much better. GA #138 was an arguable one, but seeing Kris Versteeg just curl around and beat Brodeur low as easily as he did was pretty bad. I know Brodeur covered up the post, I'm not sure why his legs were open there. The shot itself on GA #141 wasn't the easiest in the world to stop as it came through a screen. Yet, Brodeur had it at first and then it just slipped through his control as he came down and the puck dropped into the net. I know Brodeur was in an awkward position, but that's a puck he's got to hold onto in that situation. Those were definitely errors, though not on the headsmackly-inducing level of the first three mentioned.
Game 3 against Florida featured two soft ones that made me realize his yanking was justified for performance reasons beyond the team coughing up a 3-0 lead. GA #142 was a rare example of a rebound put into a bad position; though the real head-scratcher (and reason why I called it soft) was Brodeur crouching as Sean Bergenheim stormed the net. No wonder he went high, he had the whole upper half of the net! That allowance was followed by Brodeur getting beat on a long, unscreened shot for GA #143. I know Jason Garrison has a great shot but a shot to the low corner isn't exactly a rare beast of wonder. GA #144 wasn't soft, but at that point, Peter DeBoer saw enough.
Lastly for soft goals, I didn't initially tag GA #148 as soft since Bergenheim stashed a puck inside the post behind Brodeur. However, what made the puck loose to begin falls on Brodeur's pads. Tyson Strachan actually beat Brodeur five hole; but it wasn't clean through. It bounced off the inside of Brodeur's right pad, which angled the puck's path to it's right. Bergenheim certainly hustled to take it from behind the goal line and into the net in one move; but if Brodeur stopped Strachan's shot, then it never would have happened.
This isn't to say that Brodeur wasn't as good as his stats in April. It's just that he had a couple of boneheaded decisions (seriously, GAs #135, 143, 152 were awful) on top of some some errors that made this month stand out for soft goals. Given that Brodeur's not readily remembered for those goals speaks to how well he did on all of those other shots. Of course, winning makes that a lot easier.
Getting back to goals allowed, while Brodeur let up a relatively high percentage of soft goals to total goals, the majority weren't his fault. The first of the month, GA #134, was yet another perfect example of a play where the goalie had no chance. Even with six soft goals against Florida, the other twelve certainly weren't. Among them you have bang-bang scores off rebounds (e.g. GA #139), shots through screens (e.g. GA #147), Anton Volchenkov getting burnt twice (GAs #137, 142), a one-timer from a sharp angle that was just faster than the goalie going lateral (GA #145), and even a score where there was some contact on the play (GA #150). Say what you want about Florida, but they found ways to get through and get the goals they needed. Brodeur was fine overall, though he could have been better given the soft ones allowed.
The end of the month, Game 1 against Philly, highlights the disconnect between the numbers and the goals allowed. In stopping 32 out of 36 shots, Brodeur had a save percentage of approximately 88.9%. Yet, only GA #152 was a poor one for Brodeur to allow. He got beaten on a breakaway move on GA #151, helped out by a bad puck decision by Ilya Kovalchuk and a bad pinch by Peter Harrold. He got beaten on a one-timer that forced Brodeur to change directions on GA #153. He got beaten in overtime on a long shot through a screen on GA #154. That's three out of four goals that I don't think we can say Brodeur totally should have stopped them; yet the percentage suggests a poor outing. So it goes, I guess.
In terms of other observations, a majority of the GAs in April didn't come from scoring chances. Only 9 of the 21 goals allowed came from the in between the dots down to the crease. There were a few that were just outside of that zone both from distance (e.g. GAs #149, 153) and just wide up closer to the net (e.g. GAs #140, 148). Perhaps I was being too particular, but given how the goals came from almost every which way - soft or otherwise - maybe this shouldn't be so surprising.
As far as the location of the goals, there almost an even split between goals off low shots (9) and high shots (7). No one area really stuck out as mid-height shots to Brodeur's left got in four times and each of the three kinds of low shots got in three times. What was interesting was the number of high middle shots. Until this month, I only counted two from October through March. I counted three in this month: GAs #142, 146, and 152. I'd have to think that's a coincidence as most shooters don't/can't go directly over the goalie. Coincidentally, they were also soft goals. GA #142 saw Bergenheim put the shot over a crouching Brodeur, #146 just had Upshall roof a gimmie into an empty net, and #152 was a rebound that sailed over a diving, desperate Brodeur.
When considering the entire body of work, Devils fans had reason to be pleased with Brodeur in April. He had good numbers comparable to his best month in the regular season, he had a few great games, and he had a huge one to help his team win their first playoff series since 2007. Yet, after seeing all 21 goals, I can't help but think that Brodeur could have been even stingier if it wasn't for some dumb and really dumb mistakes. It also makes me wonder if we'll see the same thing in May? Of course, that can wait until next week.
Now that you've read my take on Brodeur's goals allowed in all of April and you've seen some or all of the GAs, I want to know what you think. Were you surprised that Brodeur gave up as many soft goals as he did in that month? Were you surprised at those three really dumb ones that, well, they happened at all? Have you facepalmed while watching them again? Do those soft goals put a damper on the good numbers Brodeur over the whole month? Do you think it was a series of coincidences that led to less than 50% of all goals allowed coming from scoring chances? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brodeur's performance in the month of April in the comments. Thank you for reading.