So Martin Brodeur missed most of October and then proceeded to not play all that well in the next three months. It wasn't so much that the team put up a poor record when he was in net, but his save percentage was on the wrong side of 90%. That's a level where no fan wants to see their starting goaltender set in. It looks even worse given that the average save percentage from 2011-12 is around 91.4% according to Quant Hockey. As these reviews have shown, a majority of the goals against Brodeur (and Hedberg) weren't soft. Most weren't shots that Brodeur could and should have stopped. Yet, the numbers didn't look good at all and at some point, one has to expect better from a starting goaltender.
Fortunately, things turned right around for Martin Brodeur in February. He was fantastic overall the whole month. In fact, it was his best statistical month in the 2011-12 regular season.
|February 2012 - Martin Brodeur||11||662||7||4||0||21||1.90||277||256||.924||1|
It was in this month where Brodeur earned his first shutout of the 2011-12 season. He started in eleven games and finished all of them. Despite an uptick in shots against (25.1/game in February compared to 23.3 in January), Brodeur allowed only 21 goals. 21 goals in 10 non-shutout games is quite good for any goaltender. It would be the first time in 2011-12, where we can legitimately say Brodeur was very good in the month. Peter DeBoer's decision to lean on the goaltender as the starter was justified by the stats. Devils fans had every reason to believe that Brodeur should be the starter and be more than comfortable with it. I couldn't tell you exactly why this happened then or why it took so long to get there. At the time and even now, I'm just glad it did.
Of course, this doesn't mean we can just ignore what happened. If anything, there should be more interest in seeing what happened on these 21 goals. How many of them were soft; how much better should Brodeur have been in February? Where was Brodeur beaten on these goals when he actually was? Who made specific errors that led to these goals allowed? How many of these came off shots that we'd call scoring chances? The save percentage looks great, but it doesn't answer those questions. A review of the goals allowed would. So please set your viewing to wide and continue on after the jump to find out more about Brodeur's first month of greatness in 2011-12.
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 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. 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 21 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in February 2012: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|2/2||82||Over the back||Bourque is denied on the wraparound and on the first rebound. He chips it up, it goes off Desharnais and in over Brodeur.||No||Link|
|2/2||83||Past the right pad||Weber attempts a long shot, it's stopped by Brodeur, but Kostitsyn is all alone for the rebound. He spins to his left and curls it in. SC.||No||Link||Elias
|2/2||84||Over the right pad||Foster mishandles the puck and gives it away. It's sprung to Plekanec for a breakaway. Brodeur stops him, but Darche roofs the rebound. SC. SHGA.||No||Link||Foster|
|2/5||85||Over the right shoulder||O'Reilly sees Niskanen set up above the left circle. Niskanen hammers the pass with a one-timer that beats a sliding Brodeur. PPGA.||No||Link|
|2/5||86||Through the legs||A blocked clearance lets Sullivan give it to Malkin. Malkin controls it, beats a man, and slides a shot five-hole. PPGA. SC.||Yes||Link||Mills|
|2/11||87||Through the legs||Gudbranson unloads a slapshot above the right circle, Bergenheim deflects it low to knock it through Brodeur's legs. PPGA.||No||Link|
|2/11||88||Over the glove/left shoulder||Volchenkov's clearance is blocked, Weiss gets it and Salvador blocks his shot, but the puck trickles to Versteeg in a 1-on-1. Top corner goal. SC.||No||Link||Volchenkov|
|2/14||89||Over the right shoulder||Pominville works and throws a pass to the crease. Zubrus accidentally hit it and it goes over Brodeur's shoulder. OG.||No||Link|
|2/17||90||Past the left side||Brodeur stops Getzlaf's shot, but Perry drove to the net to clean up the rebound. SC.||No||Link||Greene|
|2/17||91||Over the left shoulder||Cogliano wins the puck in the corner from Volchenkov and hits a wide-open Brookbank in the left circle. He skates in and fires one far post. SC.||No||Link||Sykora
|2/19||92||On the right flank||After a stop on a rebound on the left post, it comes around to other side. Kaberle can't stash it home, Pacioretty did. PPGA. SC.||No||Link|
|2/21||93||Past the blocker||Franson fires a shot from the right point and a screening Connolly deflected the shot past Brodeur.||No||Link|
|2/21||94||In between the glove and left pad||Taormina's clearance doesn't get out and Grabovski picks it up. He passes it to Kulemin, who gets it to MacArthur who quickly shoots it past Brodeur. SC.||No||Link||Taormina|
|2/21||95||Just past (under?) left pad||Bozak drives in, his pass bounces off Elias' skate, goes right and Kessel slams the loose one in. SC.||No||Link|
|2/24||96||Past the blocker/stick||Tanev fires a slapshot that Brodeur stops. Rome torches Bernier and knocks the rebound into the net. SC.||No||Link||Bernier|
|2/24||97||Over the right shoulder||Raymond fires a wrist shot off the rush, it takes a deflection off of Greene's knee and sailed into the top corner.||No||Link|
|2/26||98||Over the right shoulder||Janssen misses a clearance while the Devils are in a line change. Stamkos and St. Louis are up in a 2-on-0; Stamkos feeds St. Louis; and St. Louis finishes the play. SC.||Yes||Link|
|2/26||99||On the left flank||Malone is stopped on his first shot, he gets a second that Brodeur stops too. However, the puck goes wide right to an open St. Louis who scores. PPGA. SC.||No||Link||Parise|
|2/26||100||On the right flank||Purcell drops it off for St. Louis on the rush. He fires a pass that gets under Salvador and gets to Gilroy on the flank for a tap-in. SC.||No||Link||Larsson
|2/26||101||Through the legs||Purcell fires a shot from the sideboards and St. Louis deflects it in while skating in front of Brodeur.||No||Link|
|2/27||102||Over the right pad||Callahan has it behind the net and sees Hagelin open at the left post without Brodeur hugging it. Pass, shot, off the post, and in. SC.||Yes||Link||Fayne|
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 the 21 goals allowed, I counted only three soft goals. That's a definite improvement over past months. Let's go over those first. I tagged GA #86 as soft as Brodeur saw the shot from Evgeni Malkin and it did get through his five hole. While it got through a small hole, there shouldn't have been one at all. Incidentally, I tagged Brad Mills with the error since you can see his clearance getting block led to the goal-scoring play. Going back to the goaltender and all the way to the end of the month, Brodeur could have done a lot better on his last goal allowed in February. On GA #102, Carl Hagelin was set up right at the right (relative to Brodeur) post with the goalie not really covering it. Brodeur knew the puck was behind the net, but he didn't respect the coverage in front and so all Hagelin had to do was get the pass and put it up. He did thanks to Mark Fayne leaving him; but the lack of coverage post is what made me term it as a soft one.
You could argue that the third remaining soft goal shouldn't have been called that. I listed GA #98 as a soft one for similar reasons why I've listed shorthanded breakaway goals as soft in past months. (And look at GA #84 for an example of a non-soft one.) While the situation was a bad one, the goaltender saw what was coming, he had time to prepare for the shot, and he just got beat off the shot. That's what Martin St. Louis did on that play. Of course, it's not Brodeur's fault that the play was a two-on-zero rush thanks to an ill-advised line change exacerbated by Cam Janssen missing on an interception. If you do not believe that's soft and there's enough opinion and argument, then I may change it - which would make Brodeur look even better in February.
Now, there were four other one-on-Brodeur goals in February. The first was GA #83, where Andrei Kostitsyn was all alone to collect a rebound, spin, and curl it in. That was a failure in coverage by Patrik Elias and David Clarkson since both saw him skate in and neither pursued him. It wasn't the most epic failure in defensive coverage, though. That has to go to the third one: GA #91. That was where all five Devils skaters were defending a late lead and decided to crowd one side of the ice. Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias didn't even think about covering the weak side, so when Andrew Cogliano won the puck, he had an easy lane to Sheldon Brookbank who had nobody within a ten foot radius of his person. Brodeur hustled over but Brookbank's shot was perfectly placed off the post. Even today, I wanted to throw a shoe in disgust at the coverage. I didn't, but I thought about it.
The second and fourth one-on-goalie goals allowed were similar. Both GAs #88 and 94 began with clearances failing to get out of the zone by Anton Volchenkov and Matt Taormina, respectively. On both goals, the puck was hurried to the center of the ice, the puck got past the lone defender (Stephen Weiss' shot was blocked by Parise and trickled behind him; Nikolai Kulemin nutmegged Peter Harrold), and the player who just took the puck and ripped it were the kinds of players one shouldn't leave wide open in the slot: Kris Versteeg and Clarke MacArthur, respectively. Neither were soft as the each play happened so fast, Brodeur had no realy chance on either. They were good examples of being hung out to dry and how a blocked clearance can be turned from bad to awful in a matter of seconds.
Five of Brodeur's 21 goals allowed were from shots with no defense in front of him and was victimized on four of them in my view. Brodeur also got victimized by quite a few other bad breaks in this month. Provided I didn't miss any, here's four that I found to be notable. The first goal allowed of the month, GA #82, came from a shot by Rene Bourque that went off Mathieu Desharnais' body and over Brodeur's back. Yeah, it was as unfortunate as it reads. I had to give it the rare "medium middle" GA location. It wasn't even the worst Brodeur got beaten by one of his own players. On GA #89, you can see Dainius Zubrus re-directed a Jason Pominville pass right past the post. I couldn't call it a scoring chance or name Zubrus in error because it was an accidental play. It certainly wasn't soft because, come on, how is a goalie supposed to be expected to stop accidental shots from their own players?
Later in the month, Brodeur got beat twice thanks to some odd bounces off Devils. Brodeur almost had GA #95 in desparation, but the bounce off of Patrik Elias' skate just went wide enough for Phil Kessel to slam it in. I thought Mason Raymond's wrister was a poor one to allow; but upon closer examination of GA #97, the shot went off Andy Greene's knee and changed course. Throw in some other deflections (GAs #87, 93, and 101), unstoppable rebounds (GAs #84, 90, 96, and 99), and a couple of shots on the flank (GAs #92 and 100), and that's thirteen more goals he couldn't have been expected to stop. Add the four without a defense and that makes seventeen. That speaks to how Brodeur did in some regard; that he was beaten on plays where, well, goalies usually get beat. It also speaks to how bad bounces and situations can still hurt despite how well the goalie is performing on a given night. If it happens with regularity, the numbers seriously suffer. That didn't happen as much in February compared to other months, though.
As for scoring chances, I counted 14 of these 21 coming from shots in the scoring chance area. That represents a majority of the goals allowed. I will note that a shot coming from this area does not make it not-soft if it gets by the goaltender. We must still take other factors into account. Likewise, a shot coming outside of this area that gets in isn't necessarily soft. Deflections, shots through traffic, and such certainly aren't easy stops for any goalie. Still, I'm not surprised that most of the goals are coming from this zone.
Lastly, the location of the goals allowed proved to be interesting in February. Brodeur was beaten high to his right more often than any other area in that month. As first glance, it runs counter to the notion that the glove side is weak, though Brodeur was beaten there twice. However, I think it really was just coincidence that a few shooters chose to go high on that side. One was off a rebound off Brodeur's right pad (GA #84) and two were flukes: the own goal (GA #89) and the shot off Greene's knee (GA #97). That said, more goals allowed came in low on Brodeur than high or even at a mid-level of height. If that's where the space was to shoot, then there it went.
Now that you've read about Brodeur's 21 goals allowed in February and you've checked out a few of them from the chart, I want to know what you think. Here are some questions to consider: Would you agree of my count of three soft goals in this month? Should I have counted Goal #98 as soft? If not, why not? Did you think any of the other goals allowed were soft? Which one of these goals did you remember the most? Which one of these goals allowed did you wish you'd forget? What do you think about the fact that two-thirds of them came from scoring chances? Would you agree with who I named for skating errors on the various goals? Please leave your answers to any of these questions and other thoughts did you have about Brodeur's February performance in the comments. Thank you for reading.