One of the more annoying narratives since last playoffs has been about Martin Brodeur's workload. He didn't play well in the first round series against the Rangers and since then it's been about how tired Marty was. How he played over 70 games so he was tired. That being tired leads to bad performances. Nothing about the listlessness of the rest of the team or an offense that couldn't break New York's trap much less make Henrik Lundqvist to stand on his head for success.
With the Devils losing 7 out of their last 9 games; the critics are searching for a goat and so it's time to use the same flawed narrative once again. As an example, here is Timo Seppa's "I told you so" for the Devils at Puck Prospectus' Unlimited blog. The site is namely for statistical analysis, even though there isn't much of that in this post; but it's indicative of the narrative: 6 starts in the last 9 days! Only one game of rest! And he just gave up 4 goals on 18 shots! No wonder the Devils are falling flat (again, ignoring everything else about the team's play)!
My big beef with this perspective is three-fold. First, it doesn't even consider how the goals were scored. The Toronto game was a poor one because some of those goals were stoppable. Let's consider a recent game. Against Tampa Bay on last Friday, where Brodeur gave up 3 on 10 shots in relief featured two goals Brodeur had no legitimate chance on and a third coming off a breakaway that shouldn't have happened to begin with. Fatigue had nothing to do with any of those goals! And they tell you a lot more than just the numbers! Statistically, it looks awful; but understandable for those who saw what happened. But that would require seeing the goals, of course - it's not seen in numbers.
Second, if anyone is used to playing with a high workload, it's Martin Brodeur. He has played in over 70 games for 10 straight seasons, only having that streak broken by injury this season. He regularly maintains one of the best statlines in the league with this workload. Playing a whole lot of games is not new to Brodeur and I imagine he's used to that physically and mentally. Yes, he'll be turning 37 this year - but this amount didn't slow him down when he was 32, 33, 34, or 35. Why would it be any different now? If I could go off track a bit, is this any different for, say, Miikka Kiprusoff who has 75 games played? His team lost their last game; was it because he was tired? From what I read at Matchsticks and Gasoline, I would think not.
The third one, and the most crucial, is that Martin Brodeur himself says he isn't tired. In this must-read post from Gulitti today, the issue of workload is adressed by Brodeur:
"They put me in the net and I just want to get that feeling of playing. I know it's a lot of games in a short period of time that I played, but in the big scheme of things, it's not a lot for me."
"I have too much energy," he said.
Put it this way: Brodeur, the player in question who I think understands himself better than anyone, is saying now that he's not tired. Sutter keeps starting him so I'm pretty sure he think he's OK enough to play; I doubt Sutter is overriding the medical staff to give Marty minutes. Lou hasn't stepped in and suggested that this is a poor course of action, so he must agree - and if anyone in the organization outside of Sutter knows and has a say in what's going on with the team, it's Lou.
I think his word and the unsaid words of the coach and GM is more valid than a comment from an outside observer like myself or Timo or, most likely you. Yes, most goaltenders get tired with 6 starts in 9 days or 70+ game seasons. Most goaltenders would need rest then. But if Brodeur has proven something in his illustrious career so far:
MARTIN BRODEUR IS NOT MOST GOALTENDERS.
So why would anyone think he should be treated as one?
Honestly, Brodeur will be fine. He usually bounces back well after a poor game. At the end of the day, he's still the best option in net for New Jersey, you can count on him in net and I defy anyone who would suggest otherwise considering what he has done for the Devils after all these seasons.
Besides, anyone can have a bad night regardless of fatigue. Maybe it will be Alex Auld tomorrow night. He just started his 4th straight game and likely will start his 5th against New Jersey. Maybe he'll be tired.
Still, considering the actual goals he's let up, past seasons, and, of course, what the man says; I see no reason to believe that Martin Brodeur is tired or even solely responsible for the recent woes of the Devils. He's part of the problem, Brodeur admits this; but to treat him as a goat or think it'll go away with a different netminder in net is simply foolish.