December 2009 is an odd month. On the surface, one would look at Brodeur's monthly stat-line and conclude that it was a solid month for the legendary goaltender. 15 games started, 10 wins, and a overall save percentage of 91.4%. Not bad at all. It was also a historical month, as Martin Brodeur picked up 3 shutouts including his record-breaking 104th career shutout over Pittsburgh late in December.
|December 2009 -Martin Brodeur||15||10||4||0||34||2.36||393||359||91.4
Yet, Martin Brodeur gave up more goals in this month than any other month of the 2009-10 season. In prior months, I didn't think to look at the goals allowed total between winning and losing decisions. Here, it's absolutely mindblowing that while Martin Brodeur only lost 4 games yet he gave up a total of 18 goals in those games. Yes, 52% of all of the goals he allowed in this month came in those 4 losses.
In my mind, it's even more of a reason to take a closer look at each goals against. Was Brodeur just shelled and had no chance on most of those goals? How did Brodeur look in those wins; he did pick up 3 shutouts, but could he have had more if a soft goal wasn't allowed? These questions and more will be answered after the jump.
Also, here's how I'm defining a "soft" goal: I watch how the shot came through Brodeur and determine whether Brodeur really should have stopped the puck. This means he must have seen the shot coming, the shot was not deflected or change otherwise in motion, he was in position to actually make the stop, and whether Brodeur made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal (meaning: it wasn't a difficult shot to stop). If all were true, then I deemed the goal as "soft." Again, I've included links to all the goals against so you can make your own judgment.
Without further ado, here's the chart for all goals allowed by Martin Brodeur in December 2009.
The Chart for December 2009
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||Goal Description||Soft Goal?||Video Link|
|12/2/2009||46||High, glove side, deflected in front||Daniel Sedin takes long shot, Burrows is right in front of Brodeur, deflects it high to go up and over Brodeur's glove||No||Link|
|12/2/2009||47||Middle, past stick side, through screen||Salo unloads a slapshot through a double screen (one Devil, one Canuck), shot isn't low, possibly beats Marty on right, but he had no chance regardless||No||Link|
|12/2/2009||48||Low, through 5 hole||Daniel Sedin gets outlet pass, above right dot, Brodeur goes down into butterfly but shot gets through legs before he's down. Should have reacted better.||Yes||Link|
|12/2/2009||49||Low, through 5 hole||Edler takes shot from above right circle, keeps it low, beats Brodeur 5-hole. Not sure there was a screen||Yes||Link|
|12/2/2009||50||Middle, past glove, while sliding||Bieksa feeds Hansen on a 2-on-1, Hansen one-touches it to get puck over sliding Brodeur||No||Link|
|12/4/2009||51||Low, just past left pad on wraparound||Turnover in Devils zone, allows Lecavalier to get puck around net and get it past Brodeur's left skate on wraparound. Brodeur had to slide to stop it, not soft.||No||Link|
|12/4/2009||52||Low, right side, on flank||Malone gets pass to wide open Stamkos in right circle, Brodeur slides to face Stamkos whilst Stamkos passes it to Downie at crease. Easy tap-in on flank. PPGA||No||Link|
|12/5/2009||53||Low, right side, off rebound||Helm takes a shot, Draper crashes the net, rebound is right there for Draper at crease and he pounds it home||No||Link|
|12/5/2009||54||Low, through legs, deflection in front||Stuart takes a shot at the point and keeps it low. Holmstrom is screening Brodeur and deflects it to go through Brodeur's 5-hole. PPGA||No||Link|
|12/5/2009||55||Low, through legs, deflection in front||Abdelkader takes shot from left boards, Eaves is in front who deflects the shot past Brodeur||No||Link|
|12/9/2009||56||Low, past left side, deflection off shot||Sutter takes a shot above right circle and it hits Fraser's legs. The puck drifts up, then down, and in. Deflection off shot but even road announcers say Brodeur have no shot||No||Link|
|12/9/2009||57||High, glove side||Ruutu comes down on rush, takes shot from right circle, beats Brodeur over glove. Well placed shot. PPGA||No||Link|
|12/11/2009||58||High, glove side, while stretching out||Leopold gets loose puck from Horton attempt in high slot, rips a one-timer high to beat lateral-moving Brodeur||No||Link|
|12/11/2009||59||High, left side, deflection in front||Ballard takes shot from right point, Frolik comes across Brodeur to screen him and deflect the puck past him. PPGA||No||Link|
|12/11/2009||60||Middle, left side, deflection in front||Reinphrect takes shot from right circle, Matthias was in front screening Brodeur and deflects shot in near post||No||Link|
|12/11/2009||61||Middle, over right pad, off breakaway||Frolik sprung on a breakaway, beats stretching Brodeur over right pad||No||Link|
|12/12/2009||62||Low, possibly through legs while standing||Giroux takes puck in, takes shot outside of left dot, either goes through 5-hole or past Brodeur's stick. Bad positioning either way. PPGA||Yes||Link|
|12/16/2009||63||Low, through legs, awkward position||Langenbrunner coughs up puck at right point, Moen charges down ice in 2-on-1, goes to his backhand, fakes pass, Brodeur eats the fake, and Moen goes 5-hole. SHGA||Yes?||Link|
|12/18/2009||64||High, above right shoulder, through a screen||Picard fires a drifting shot from right point over right shoulder of Brodeur. Brodeur didn't see it clearly due to own players in front.||No||Link|
|12/18/2009||65||Middle, past stick side||Ruutu splits the D on outlet pass whilst Devils change lines, shoots while leaning, beats Brodeur shortside||No||Link|
|12/19/2009||66||Middle, beyond glove||White coughs it up in neutral zone, Hainsey takes it past him, goes around Mottau, fires shot past Brodeur's glove||No||Link|
|12/19/2009||67||High and to Brodeur's left, on breakaway||Antropov is sprung for breakaway by Kovalchuk, Brodeur comes out but Antropov puts it up to his left anyway||No||Link|
|12/19/2009||68||Middle, Brodeur's right, through screen||Kubina from right point fires a bomb through screen set by a Devil, beats Brodeur||No||Link|
|12/26/2009||69||Low, through 5 hole||Backstrom wins faceoff, puck goes loose to high slot, Ovechkin takes it and fires a blistering shot low. Not exactly a soft goal but it did go 5-hole||Yes||Link|
|12/26/2009||70||High, off glove and drops in behind him||Bradley takes shot from high slot and it goes real high. As in over the net high. Brodeur reaches for it, only gets a piece and it goes in behind him.||Yes||Link|
|12/26/2009||71||High, left side, backhand in slot||Backstrom gets wide open in right circle, takes pass from Semin, dangles into slot and knocks backhand over Brodeur's glove||No||Link|
|12/26/2009||72||High, left side, past glove||Green takes long pass, goes to high slot uncovered, and fires a blazer past Brodeur's glove||No||Link|
|12/28/2009||73||High, left side, past glove, off one-timer||Kovalchuk takes one-timer from right side boards, Brodeur in position but the shot was too fast for his glove. A well placed one-timer, really.||No||Link|
|12/28/2009||74||Middle, left side, possibly off deflection||Reasoner takes shot from middle point, takes a deflection off Mottau's stick, shot goes past Brodeur's left and in.||No||Link|
|12/31/2009||75||Middle, past stick, on Brodeur's flank||Toews finds Brouwer on Brodeur's flank in front, Brouwer one-times it past stick of surprised Brodeur. PPGA||No||Link|
|12/31/2009||76||Low, through legs, off rebound||Brodeur stops Fraser on wraparound attempt, puck comes to slot, Eager gets to it first and pounds it in low through sliding Brodeur||No||Link|
|12/31/2009||77||Low, past right side, off rebound||Brodeur stops Sharp in the slot, puck bounces to Ladd at Brodeur's right. Ladd knocks it low and in past stick. No chance for Brodeur||No||Link|
|12/31/2009||78||Middle, between glove and pad||Toews picks Oduya's pocket, takes puck to the slot, fires one between Brodeur's glove and left pad.||No||Link|
|12/31/2009||79||Low, through legs, through a screen||Madden takes a shot in high slot, used Mottau as a screen, shot beats Brodeur low. Not sure if soft, really.||No||Link|
Note: No goals were allowed on 12/7/2009, 12/21/2009, and 12/30/2009. Brodeur shutout Buffalo and Pittsburgh twice in those games.
The four losses came on 12/2/2009 (5-2 to Vancouver), 12/11/2009 (4-2 to Florida), 12/26/2009 (4-1 to Washington), and 12/31/2009 (5-1 to Chicago). As mentioned earlier, 18 goals were allowed in just those four games and among just those four dates, I counted only 4 soft goals: goals #48 and #49 in the Vancouver game and goals #69 and #70 in the Washington game. From what I saw, Brodeur either had no chance on the goals allowed in the Florida or Chicago losses or he was left out to dry.
This is actually a positive in some way, and not just because it means Brodeur did that much better in the 10 games he did win. What I take from this is that Brodeur wasn't the sole cause of those losses. He could have done better against Vancouver and Washington, but the offense certainly didn't put up enough goals even if you took the soft ones away. Moreover, taking a step back, 4 soft ones out of 18 isn't bad at all: 22.22%. It suggests to me those those nights were more the result of just a bad night for the whole team (definitely the case against Florida and Chicago). That can't be ignored if one is to make a completely informed opinion on how Martin Brodeur played in December 2009.
Basically, I think Brodeur was better in this month than his stat-line suggests. Those 4 games (and the one game he was pulled in - 12/19/2009, more on that later) really hurt his numbers but was not indicative of how he played overall.
In fact, from what I saw, Brodeur only gave up 6 soft goals in total, or only 17.65% of all goals allowed this month. This month was his lowest his rate of soft goals in these reviews so far. I'm even questioning on one of them. Goal #63, the first shorthanded goal allowed, did appear to go through the 5-hole and that's why I ultimately called it soft. Still, Brodeur had to be aware of the passing option on the 2-on-1 so he had to take the fake he did; moreover, the whole play was a result of an awful giveaway by Jamie Langenbrunner during a power play. I guess I'm more sympathetic in this case.
Incidentally, that one and Goal #62 were the only soft goals I counted in non-losing efforts. Had Brodeur stopped them and all else being equal, he could have shut out the Flyers and Canadiens in those games. At least the one error he did make was limited to just the one error. Overall, though, one cannot really complain much about Brodeur's performance since - again - the majority of the goals against were not Brodeur's fault.
Going back to gaffes, it's funny looking back at all of these goals and noticing who blew coverage or made a mistake in front of Brodeur that had a direct impact on there being a goal at all. The 12/19/2009 5-4 win over Atlanta was a great example of this phenomenon. Brodeur was actually pulled in that game, as he allowed 3 goals on 6 shots. Yet, in reviewing the tape, Colin White and Mike Mottau were just miserable in all of them. They were pylons during Ron Hainsey's goal (Goal #66), they got caught snoozing by Ilya Kovalchuk who sprung Nik Antropov on a breakaway (Goal #67), and Mottau actually screened Brodeur for Pavel Kubina's goal (Goal #68). All in one period I don't mean to pick on just White and Mottau; but they were miserable in that first period and the Devils paid the price. That night was proof of how the guys in front of the goaltender can make big mistakes and yet the goaltender gets the blame by getting pulled.
I've also noticed more deflections coming into play this month. At least 6 goals were definitely off deflections and possibly a seventh. Goal #54 was a fluke and I suspect there was one on goal #74, but the others were intentional and Brodeur had no chance on them. Far more goals were the result of deflections than even screens (4), by my count in December. I wish I had a reason as to why that could be, and why they mostly happened in the first half of the month. It's probably luck (read: "getting a break," "getting a bounce") more than anything else. At the end of all this, I should definitely take a count of how often I noted screens and deflections from month to month.
Location of Goals Against
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.
The most common ways opposing players beat Brodeur in December was either through his 5-hole or getting high on his glove side. Some of those pucks that got through Brodeur's legs were off deflections (e.g. Goals #54, 55) and one was off a rebound (Goal #76), so they weren't all soft ones in my view.
What's more interesting is how more players put the puck past him above the ice. Whereas low shots dominated November, they were only a plurality in December as more shots beat him at mid-level height and or over his shoulder/top corner. Again, some shots were deflected high (e.g. Goal #59) or were just blasted off a one-timer (e.g. Goal #73). If you catch a goaltender moving in one way and put it up top, it'll be a high shot that beat the goalie to that side. So goals against where the shooter just had to beat a sliding or lunging Brodeur could inflate this total. (e.g. Goals #58, #71, #72) My point is that I don't believe that Brodeur was just bad with his glove or his left pad this month any more with any other part of his body. Like with the increase of goals against by deflection this month, this is probably more luck than anything else.
Interestingly, a similar breakdown can be had with respect to length. After two straight months of there being an even amount of goals that beat Brodeur both to his left and right, December saw more shots go in to Brodeur's left: 15 compared to 9 to his right and 10 in the middle. As with the goals against that got through high and to Brodeur's left, this could be the result of more luck than anything else. Since shooters caught Brodeur on that side more high, that could explain the increase more.
I would love to hear your opinions now. Do you have any explanations for the increase of goals that went high left on Brodeur or just to his left? Do you agree that there were only 6 soft goals out of 34 in this month? Do you even agree with the goals I deemed as "soft" or were there others I missed? Were you as surprised as I was to learn that the majority of goals against in this month came in just 4 games? Would you also think that Brodeur was better in this month than what the numbers say as a result? Please leave me your answers and other relevant thoughts in the comments, and as always, thank you for reading.