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The 27 New Jersey Devils Games Where Martin Brodeur Gave Up a Soft Goal in 2009-10

This summer, I underwent an extensive project where upon I reviewed every one of Martin Brodeur's 168 goals allowed in the 2009-10 season for the New Jersey DevilsYou can read the summary of those results, as well as find links to the month by month review, in this post. I found that 35 of the 168 goals allowed last season were soft ones, goals that Brodeur should have stopped but didn't for one reason or another.   Without knowing how many soft goals other goaltenders in the league allowed, I can't say whether or not Brodeur should be lauded or jeered for that fact.   Nevertheless, the summary has raised some further, more interesting questions.

First came the question of the effect of a soft goal has on a team's performance, which came from a commenter named Todd the Fox. I simplified the query down to determining the Devils' record when Brodeur gave up a soft goal, which happened in 27 games last season.  The Devils' record in games where Brodeur allowed a soft goal was 12-14-1 last season; a post that was linked to, among other places, by Puck Daddy. This garnered more interest and more questions, such as FrankG929 wondering how many of those losses were by 1 goal (the answer: 5 out of 14). Which leads me to this comment in that post by Ubiquitous:

Marty Brodeur’s non-shutout record: 36-25-6
I’m making the hopefully correct assumption that all the shutouts were wins and not 1-0 double shutout losses, because those are lame. Shutouts are excluded because we are interested in testing if allowing soft goals hurts the team’s ability to win as opposed to allowing only non-soft goals.

Brodeur had one no-decision this year, so these numbers will be off by one somewhere.
Devils record in games that Brodeur only allowed non-soft goals: 24-11-5 (.663 PTS%)
Devils record in games that Brodeur allowed at least 1 soft goal: 12-14-1 (.463 PTS%)

That’s a pretty significant difference, so clearly there is some effect here, though it is probably due to the devils playing worse overall in the games that Brodeur allowed soft goals.

It would also be somewhat interesting to see if goals were scored on the Devils at a greater rate after a soft goal against as opposed to before it, or if the devils offense was less productive before or after a soft goal against was allowed in a game.

The emphasis is mine, and I decided to do just that.  I recorded the time of the soft goal, the score after the soft goal was allowed, and the final score of the game. After the jump are my findings in chart form, along with some additional conclusions.

A Chart of All 35 2009-10 Soft Goals Allowed over 27 Reg. Season Games

A Note for Reading This Chart: The score puts the Devils first.  Here are a few examples: A 0-1 score means the Devils were down by 1.  A 2-5 score means the Devils lost 5-2.  A 3-1 score means the Devils were up 3-1.


Here's what I learned by compiling the data and in putting this chart together.  Take from it what you will.

Time-Related Findings on Soft Goals Allowed (SGA)

  • Martin Brodeur only gave up one soft goal in the final 5 minutes of a game: the second SGA on 1/31/2010.   Ironically, while the first two goals allowed were soft; the heartbreaking game winner by the Los Angeles Kings was not. 
  • Martin Brodeur only gave up five soft goals in the final 10 minutes of a game, including the SGA mentioned in the first point.  This represents approximately 14.3% of all SGAs last season.
  • By period, Martin Brodeur has 13 SGAs in the first period, 11 SGAs in the second period, and 11 SGAs in the third period.   There does not appear to be a period where there were significantly more SGAs by Brodeur.   Knowing the above, it also does not appear that the Devils skaters had to usually "beat the clock" along with the opposition to make up for the allowed goal.

Score-Related Findings on SGAs

  • Brodeur allowed multiple SGAs in 7 games.  In those 7 games, there were 15 SGAs total; all of them were ultimately losses.
  • Brodeur allowed 4 equalizing SGAs (11.4% of all SGAs), goals that tied up the game at the time.  The Devils went 1-3 when that happened.
  • Out of the 35 SGAs, 8 were the first goal of the game.  This represented approximately 22.8% of all SGAs last season.  The Devils went 3-5 when this happened.
  • There were 5 SGAs (~14.3% of all SGAs) when the Devils had at least a two goal lead. The Devils went 4-1 in those games.  The one loss? You guessed it: 1/31/2010 against the Kings.
  • 7 of the 12 wins where there was at least one SGA were come-from-behind wins by New Jersey.
  • Two of the 12 wins where there was at least one SGA went beyond regulation - one overtime win (over the Toronto Maple Leafs on 1/29/2010) and one shootout win (over the Washington Capitals on 10/12/2009).  One of the 15 non-wins went to a shootout, where the Devils lost to the Nashville Predators.
  • The Devils were only shutout once in a game where Brodeur had a SGA: 1/26/2010 against the Ottawa Senators.

Answering Ubiquitous' Thought

Let's go back to what drove this post:

It would also be somewhat interesting to see if goals were scored on the Devils at a greater rate after a soft goal against as opposed to before it, or if the devils offense was less productive before or after a soft goal against was allowed in a game.

In recording the time of each goal against, I noted how many more goals were scored by the Devils and how many more were allowed from that point onward in each game.  As an example, please look at the last game on the list, 4/10/2010.  The Islanders made the game 6-1 due to a SGA; so I counted the goal difference for both sides after that event.  In that case, there was 1 goal scored for the Devils and none for the Islanders as the game ended 7-1.  For the 7 games that had multiple SGAs, I only noted how many goals were scored in between soft goals. This way I would avoid counting the goals twice for either side.

Over all 27 games, the Devils have scored 46 goals and allowed 36 after a soft goal.  That's a per-game rate of 1.704 goals for and 1.333 goals against New Jersey.   It appears that the Devils' offense didn't sag overall.  

However, there were two games that really stuck out in boosting the goals for total: 2/12/2010 and 3/17/2010. The Devils responded after their respective SGAs with 4 and 5 goals scored, respectively.   I'd say those 9 goals in 2 games really made a big difference.  If you take those two games out of this analysis, then you're left with 37 goals scored (1.48 goals/game) and 35 goals allowed (1.4 goals/game) after a SGA.  It still shows that the Devils offense didn't completely fall apart over all 27 games.   Yet, there were 11 SGAs (7 in games with multiple SGAs) where the Devils didn't respond with a goal of their own.

If you break this down between the 12 wins and 15 non-wins, then the results are more stark, yet unsurprising.  In the 12 wins, the Devils scored 29 goals (2.4167 goals/game) and allowed only 5 (0.4167 goals/game) after SGAs.  Even if you take out the two games where the Devils scored 9 goals after their respective SGA, the Devils still decisively outscored their opposition 20 to 5.  For the opposite case, the 15 non-wins, the Devils only scored 17 goals (1.133 goals/game) and allowed 31 goals (2.067 goals/game). 

Again, given what was found in the chart, this shouldn't be such a big surprise.  If the Devils go on to win, more often than not, they were either coming from behind or taking the lead after an equalizing SGA. Generally to win in those situations, you don't allow goals and you score more of your own.   The reverse is true for losses: usually the opposition just keeps piling on goals and you're not able to answer all of them.

What about before a soft goal?  Well, the Devils had scored 33 goals (1.222 goals/game) and allowed 31 goals (1.148 goals/game).  The Devils rate of goals for and goals against per game both increased after the soft goal, as opposed to beforehand.  The only game where a large amount of goals were scored on either side was 4/10/2010; where the Devils dropped 6 on the Islanders.  If you take that out, then the Devils' goals for drops to 27, a rate of 1.03 per game; as the goals against rate rises a little to 1.19 per game.   

Like with scores after soft goals, the goals scored and allowed by New Jersey before the soft goal(s) was/were allowed do differ between wins and losses.  In the 12 games that turned out to be wins, the Devils scored 19 goals (1.583 goals/game) and allowed only 7 (0.583 goals/game).  In the other 15 games, the Devils scored 14 goals (0.933 goals/game) and allowed 24 (1.6 goals/game).  Just as with after soft goals, the Devils' offense has been outscoring opposition before the soft goals in eventual wins; but not so in eventual losses. 

However, based on both the gross and the rates, the Devils were more prolific on offense after soft goals than before them regardless of wins or losses.  I think one of the reasons for this was that most of the SGAs by Brodeur - 24 out of 35 - took place with at least one full period left to play. Furthermore, all but one of the SGAs by Brodeur happened with more than 5 minutes left in the game.  As painful as some of the SGAs may have been, only one happened very late in one game.  I believe there was time for the Devils to regroup and answer that SGA with a goal of their own; and even in losses, the Devils sometimes did work for a consolation goal.  After all, the Devils did only get shutout once among the 27 games.

Your Take

Thank you to Ubiquitous for the very interesting request; and I hope you all got something out of this breakdown.  I am fully aware that Martin Brodeur has made a lot of important saves.  If there was a way to define and count that, then I'm sure Brodeur would have had hundreds of them in 2009-10.   The whole point of this post and the whole series wasn't to pick on Brodeur, but to take a closer look at the goals allowed and get an understanding of their effects on the team.

I'd like to know what you think of this particular post anyway. What is your take from all of this? What from the chart did you learn? What questions does this raise?  Did the results surprise you? Please let me know of your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks for reading.