Reviewing the Goals Against Martin Brodeur: December 2013

December 2013: Not nearly as good as November 2013 for Brodeur. But at least better than October, which isn't saying much. - Bruce Bennett

As the month-by-month review of all goals against Martin Brodeur continues, his hot November settles down in December. That meant one more goal against in one fewer game, a poorer save percentage, and a couple more soft goals allowed.

Coming down from a hot streak can be brutal.  Some players tail off to their normal level of performance.  But in some cases, they crash hard.  It's not a controversial statement to point out that Martin Brodeur has not been who he once was for years.  He's 41 after all.  So when he was so good for most of November, that run ending really provided a sobering reminder of that.   After allowing fifteen goals in nine games in November, he got beaten nineteen times in eight games in December.

It didn't show in the results.  Brodeur's record was 5-2-1 for month.   Sport is a results-oriented business and those are some good results on the surface.   It doesn't mean that Brodeur was playing well throughout those eight games, however.  Sure, he had some real good nights, including a shutout.  However, in multiple games in December, the team succeeded in spite of his performances.  The save percentage doesn't lie and an overall save percentage of 90.2% for the month just isn't good.   Especially after posting 93.2% a month earlier. Needless to say, this month's goals against are going to be a bit harder to watch.

About the Review

For those of you who are unaware of what I'm doing, this is part of my annual month-by-month review of the goals against each Devils goaltender in each game they played in. Shootouts do not count. I'm starting with Martin Brodeur as he's the pending unrestricted free agent. I will do the same for Cory Schneider later this summer.

I focus on identifying the "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 trait alone can make the difference in what is and is not a soft goal. Breakaways are done on a case-by-case basis; there I usually look to see whether the goalie has at least made an effort and didn't make it easy for the shooter. There's a very good example of what I mean in this very post.

In addition to that, I look for other factors. I identify where Brodeur was beaten on the goal. I note the game situation: even strength, power play, and shorthanded. I record whether the goal-scoring shot was a scoring chance. Any shot - not a deflection - from the crease out to the dots up to the top of the circles counts as a chance; anything outside of that does not. If I'm not certain, I will go against calling it a chance. Lastly, I denote any particular skater errors by a Devil on the goal allowed. I assign a skater error by name under "Errors" if the player did something significantly wrong that led to the goal such as a turnover or not covering their man. It's arguable that all goals allowed have an error or some kind; these are for the egregious mistakes made. I'm going to be more strict in calling them out. It also doesn't absolve the goaltender for a soft goal against.

Lastly, I have provided links to the video I looked at for each goal from NHL.com. This way if you want to see these for yourself and come to your own conclusion, then you can. These links will auto-play the video, so be forewarned when you click on them.

The 19 Goals Against Martin Brodeur in December 2013

Date

GA#

Where Beaten?

GA Description

Soft?

Video

S.E.

SC?

Sit.

12/2

34

Past the left pad

Desharnais springs Bourque in left circle.  Bourque fires one in shortside past Brodeur's left pad.

Yes

Link

Zidlicky

Yes

ES

12/2

35

Just past the glove

Desharnais wins a puck ahead of Josefson, gets it to his right to Markov, who fires it across to Pacioretty for a one-timer.

No

Link

--

Yes

PP

12/2

36

On the left flank

Emelin attempts a shot through traffic, touches off Eller's skate in front, and gets to to Galchenyuk at left side of the net.  He bangs in an easy one behind Brodeur.

No

Link

--

Yes

ES

12/7

37

Above the right shoulder

2-on-1 led by Richards.  Richards just goes up and fires one high over a crouching Brodeur.

Yes

Link

--

Yes

ES

12/7

38

Under the blocker, past the right of a diving Brodeur

Brodeur stops a Callahan shot and concedes a really long rebound. Zuccarello hammers it low past a diving Brodeur.

Yes

Link

--

No

ES

12/7

39

High, past Brodeur's right

Brodeur stops a slapshot by McDonagh. As Callahan is right on Brodeur's stick; Kreider jams at a rebound and it launches up and in.

No

Link

--

Yes

PP

12/10

40

Low, past the right pad

Brodeur makes a pad save on a Dubinsky shot from the sideboards as Atkinson crashes the net. The puck went off the pad, off the back of Atkinson's calf, and into the net.

No

Link

--

No

ES

12/10

41

Low, through the legs

Johnson fires a shot; Brodeur makes the stop but Atkinson (after some battling) pokes the rebound through.  Dubinsky puts the loose puck in the crease in.

Yes

Link

--

Yes

ES

12/10

42

Over the right shoulder

Dubinsky darts around behind the net, finds an open Atkinson at the right post for a high one-timer

No

Link

Jagr

Yes

ES

12/10

43

Way past his right

Dubinsky leads a 2-on-1, Brodeur stops his shot but slides out of crease leaving a juicy rebound for Calvert.  He finishes it into the open net.

Yes

Link

Merrill

Yes

ES

12/10

44

Just past the left skate

Johansen throws the puck to the top of the crease.  Puck re-directs off Foligno's skate and past Brodeur.

No

Link

--

No

ES

12/18

45

Above and past the glove

Zibanejad takes a shot from above the right dot and Greening deflects high to the top right corner.

No

Link

--

No

PP

12/18

46

Past the glove

Wiercioch springs Michalek to split the defense. Going forehand to backhand, he lifts one past Brodeur's stretched glove.

No

Link

Fayne
Volchenkov

Yes

PP

12/21

47

Off the right pad and in

Chimera goes for a wraparound and Brodeur stops it. Then after a pause, Chimera put through his own rebound off Brodeur's right pad.

Yes

Link

Elias

Yes

ES

12/21

48

Past the left pad

Brouwer feeds Fehr coming towards slot. Fehr sees Grabovski open to Brodeur's left. Grabovski slides in puck before a sliding Brodeur came.

No

Link

Gelinas

Yes

ES

12/21

49

High, above the right pad

Green leads 3-on-2 and takes a slapshot.  Brodeur stops it; rebound comes right out to Ward.  Ward roofs it past a stretched Brodeur.

No

Link

--

Yes

ES

12/21

50

Low, through the legs

Elias gives away the puck on a clearing attempt to Alzner.  Alzner passes it across to Ovechkin, who fires one through Brodeur's legs.

Yes

Link

Elias

No

ES

12/27

51

Over the fallen Brodeur

Brodeur stretches to deny a close-up one-timer by Dubinsky.  The puck was loose, Anisimov roofed it over the fallen Brodeur.

No

Link

Bernier

Yes

ES

12/31

52

Off the glove

Crosby passes to an open Niskanen above the left circle.  Niskanen hammers a slapshot by multiple Devils as a screen. Shot goes off Brodeur's glove and in.

No

Link

--

No

ES

As a summary of the location data, not included in the big chart, here's the location of all goals allowed from Brodeur in December. Again, these are all relative to Brodeur's location; his left is left and his right is right.

Location Count % Total
Low Left 3 15.79%
Low Middle 2 10.53%
Low Right 2 10.53%
Medium Left 2 10.53%
Medium Middle 0 0.00%
Medium Right 2 10.53%
High Left 3 15.79%
High Middle 1 5.26%
High Right 4 21.05%

Commentary

In total, I counted seven soft goals.  The very first goal against of the month was just a bad one.  As bad as Marek Zidlicky did on GA #34, Brodeur was beaten an unscreened, open shot.  He did better in that game, but the month was definitely up and down in this regard.   He had three games with two each: the 4-3 OT win in Rangerstown on December 7, the 4-5 choke job in Columbus on December 10, and that stunning 5-4 OT win in D.C. on December 21.  Not only were those games with two stoppable goals each, they were also games where he got lit up as a whole.

Speaking of soft goals, this month had some great examples of why looking at the video can be enlightening. GA #37, from the games against Our Hated Rivals, was a good example of why I don't just say "it's a breakaway" and be done with it.  On GA #37, you can see Brodeur make the first move to the on coming Brad Richards.  It was a very good shot by Richards, but Brodeur dropping the shoulder just made it easy for him.  A breakaway often has the goalie hung out to dry but they shouldn't try to make it easier for the opposing player to convert it.  By the same reasoning, I fault Brodeur for making that poke-check move where if he doesn't get it, he's toast.  (Spoiler: this happened again in January.)  That's why I called that one soft and not GA #46, which was another breakaway goal against.

Normally, I'd look at a skater or chalk up an unfortunate occurrence for a rebound goal against.  After all, sometimes the puck just goes where the player is and puts it home.  Yet,  GAs #38, #41, #43, and #47 show that it's on the goalie in some cases as well.  For GA #38, Brodeur kicks the rebound wide and away, which usually is a good idea.  Instead, it's picked up by a Ranger who throws it back at him low.  A few years ago or an extra half-second and Brodeur maybe makes that stop.  Instead, he created the situation where he got beat.  As for GA #41, Brodeur had a chance to recover his position before Cam Atkinson slid it through his legs. And when Brodeur tried to fall back, he effectively sealed off the puck except for the guy who put it in.  GA #43 was a combination of the breakaway and the rebound.  Brodeur stopped the breakaway but in doing so left a rebound out and slid away from the net, so he made it simple for Matt Calvert to score.   Lastly, GA #47, Brodeur stopped Jason Chimera on a wraparound.  the rebound wasn't big but Brodeur didn't react to it.  By the time he saw it, Chimera put it off Brodeur's right and into the net.   In those four goals, the lack of control and awareness doomed Brodeur for goals.

At least the last soft one, GA #50, was more conventional like the first one.  Sure, Patrik Elias created the problem.  Indeed, the shot did come from Alexander Ovechkin, an all-world offensive force.  The shot still went right through the five hole.  It wasn't a difficult one to stop.   Overall, seven soft goals out of 19 is still quite a bit but it's not nearly as obscene as October.  That's not necessarily a point of praise though.  It does mean that there were some unfortunate deflections, some that came through screens, and some one-timers.  Those occurrences may lead to more fault with the skaters and I did find quite a few skater errors.  Of course, those don't absolve Brodeur on a soft one.  For example, while Brodeur blew it on GA #43, I tagged Jon Merrill for being stuck in one place and missing the rebound puck that could've bailed out his goalie and kept it a 3-3 game at the time.

More goals against came with some height compared to those that stayed low or right on the ice.  Eight beat him high, with half of those coming in stick-side.  Seven went in low, only two through the legs.  At least that five-hole wasn't a near-constant gap.  Additionally, more of these goals against were in the scoring chance zone.  I didn't count deflections (GA #45) or re-directions off skates (GA #44) and body parts (GA # 40).  I still had thirteen, which at least makes feel a bit better that opponents weren't finding too many ways past him from distance or bad angles.  Of the seven soft goals, only two were outside of the zone: GAs #38 and #50.

Brodeur wasn't as good as he was in November and for a few games, it was reminiscent of his play in October.  But he had enough good performances like his shutout and his two one-goal-allowed games at the end of the month to make December better than October.  His save percentage sank but he ended up only giving up two more soft goals, so it wasn't as if he was totally awful.   Still, it's not much praise to state that Brodeur was better than his abysmal October.  In retrospect, I'm still confused as to how Brodeur played as much as he did in December.   He came into December with two less-than-stellar games and he didn't really do all that well until the middle of the month.  The wins and those last two games may have been convincing enough to keep using him with some regularity.  That blew up in January - and deservedly so as that review will show.

Your Take

Now you've read the charts, you've seen some or all of the videos, and you've read the commentary. What do you think of Brodeur's play in December?  What were his bad games and what were his good games, in your opinion? Do you think his better nights kept him getting games that he maybe shouldn't have?  Which of the goals he allowed was the worst? Which ones do you think weren't so bad? Who else, if anyone, should have be marked as making a significant error? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brodeur's performance in December 2013 in the comments. Thank you for reading.

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