This is the month that where fans of the New Jersey Devils start to feel some fond memories for them. About halfway through January, the "turnaround" began. The endless losing stopped as the team managed to accomplish tasks like win games, score more than 2 goals in a game, and stop looking like fools in front of the goaltender. It reached a peak in February, but it all began in this month.
Martin Brodeur got to enjoy most of it. After a rocky New Year's Day game in Carolina, Brodeur saw the bench in favor of Johan Hedberg for the next few games. When the team failed to rally around the Moose, Brodeur regained his position as the starter; that fateful game on January 15 occurred; and the good times began to roll. For the first month in his 2010-11 season, Brodeur earned a winning record in January and he put up a save percentage above 90%. The save percentage is of particular note since Brodeur played 10 fewer minutes than he did in December, but had a bump in workload with 26 more shots. I would guess it's because the Devils actually led some games in January instead of always playing catch up to an opposition that didn't need to attack as much.
|January 2011 - Martin Brodeur||9||474||5||1||1||18||2.28||223||205||.919||1
So far, I've been going beyond the monthly stats to see whether Brodeur was as bad as they indicated. While these stats are much better, it's important to avoid the temptation to accept them as they are. It could be possible that Brodeur was worse than these numbers show. Likewise, it could be possible that these numbers are reflective how Brodeur performed. Once again, let's look at the video of what Brodeur couldn't stop and determine what went on in January. (Please set your viewing to "Wide" before continuing so you can see the whole chart.)
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 change otherwise in motion; the goalie was in position to actually make the stop; and the goaltender made an uncharacteristic mistake that led to the goal. If all were true, then I deemed the goal as "soft." In fact, the very last bit alone can make the difference between a soft goal or not.
I also want to highlight the last column in the following list: Skater Error. Did askater do something seriously wrong on the play that led to the goal? If so, their name (or names) end up on the chart. I could be picky and call them out for every goal, but I'm only highlighting who's actions or lack thereof contributed to the goal against. There will be goals where multiple skaters screw up, so you may see more than one name. I'm tracking this to see who was commonly at fault, assuming it means anything. As with the goals against themselves, feel free to discuss this too.
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.
The 18 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in January 2011: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft Goal?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|1/1/2011||72||Through the legs||Corvo fires a wrist shot from the point, Ruutu deflects it among traffic to get the puck past Brodeur PPGA||No||Link|
|1/1/2011||73||Over a fallen goaltender||Salmela's clearance gets stopped by Gleason, who fires it on net. Skinner is right in front for the rebound, goes backhand, and puts it over a diving Brodeur||No||Link||Corrente|
|1/1/2011||74||Around the right pad||Corvo fires a shot from the right point, Brodeur stops it, Samsonov is right in front to get the rebound, and puts it around Brodeur's right leg and in.||No||Link||Tallinder|
|1/9/2011||75||On the left flank||Downie makes a pass into the slot, it bounces about, Mair tried to clear it out, it his Ritola's leg and bounces to Purcell on Brodeur's left flank for an easy goal||No||Link||Corrente
|1/9/2011||76||Through the legs||Malone gets the puck down low and attempts a sharp angle shot. It trickles through Brodeur's pads and in PPGA||Yes||Link|
|1/9/2011||77||Past the left pad||Ohlund fires a shot on net amid traffic; Brodeur stops it; and Moore gets it on his backhand in the crowded slot and beats Brodeur to his left||No||Link||Tallinder|
|1/14/2011||78||On the right flank||St. Louis fakes the shot and passes it to Stamkos at a sharp angle; Stamkos fires it on Brodeur's right flank - possibly using Elias as a screen PPGA||No||Link|
|1/14/2011||79||Over the glove||St. Louis collects a lead pass, splits the Devils' D, fights off Greene, goes backhand and finds the top shelf||No||Link|
|1/15/2011||80||Under the right arm||Video cut out most of the play - my recap calls out White being out of position so Dadonov got in the slot and fired it under Brodeur's right arm PPGA||Yes||Link||White|
|1/15/2011||81||Through the legs||Wideman is found in the slot and fires, White attempts a block but only screens Brodeur as it goes 5-hole||No||Link|
|1/15/2011||82||Over the left shoulder||Allen fights to keep puck in on long shift; gets it to Kulikov with acres of space. He glides into high slot, sees a seam through traffic and picks a corner. OTGA||No||Link||Zajac|
|1/17/2011||83||On the left flank||Fraser's hit on Comeau didn't stop him, creating an impromptu 3-on-1. Tallinder whiffs on Comeau's pass to Parenteau who easily tapped it in on Brodeur's left||No||Link||Fraser
|1/17/2011||84||Under the stick||Fraser tried to play the pass, but Bailey slid it between his legs to Grabner. Grabner charges to the net and slides the puck under Brodeur's stick||Yes||Link||Fraser|
|1/23/2011||85||Over the left shoulder||Florida starts on 3-on-2 created by an Arnott turnover; Mattias is the trailer, gets it in the right circle fires against the grain, and hits the top-left corner perfectly||No||Link||Arnott|
|1/23/2011||86||Low, past the right side||Brodeur stops a Stillman shot, Dvorak knocks puck loose from Broduer, and Reasoner comes in to bang it in past Brodeur's right side||No||Link||Mair|
|1/26/2011||87||High, over the left shoulder||Fraser's attempted pass at own blueline is blocked by Helm. On a breakaway, Helm fires it high over Brodeur||No||Link||Fraser|
|1/26/2011||88||On the right flank||Fayne's giveaway helps Detroit's attack; eventually Hudler finds Filppula across the zone for a one-timer. Beats Brodeur on his flank||No||Link||Fayne
|1/26/2011||89||Just over the glove||Zetterberg finds Franzen streaking into the zone; Franzen fends off Tedenby and unloads a shot over Brodeur's glove||Yes||Link|
Out of the 18 goals allowed (GAs) in January, I found that 5 of them were soft. This is an increase of one over last month; the percentage of soft goals rose to 27.78% this month. Three of which were pretty straight-forward to identify in my opinion. GA #76 was the deflating-to-see the puck trickle through the goalie's five-hole. Brodeur's glove side just got torched on clear shot from Johan Franzen on GA #89; and I'm still trying to figure out Brodeur's positioning on GA #84. Those three were easy enough to identify. I was on the fence on GA #85, since it was an odd-man rush created by a Jason Arnott turnover, and Shawn Mattias picked the corner over Brodeur's left shoulder perfectly while going against the grain. However, Brodeur did have a clear view of the shot and it can be argued that he should have cut down on the angle a little more. That's why I called it soft, though one could make a case that it really wasn't.
GA #80 deserves some further explanation. I don't know why, but the video at NHL.com for this goal starts with Bryan McCabe carrying the puck in the neutral zone and then it just cuts to Evgeny Dadonov firing a shot past Brodeur in the slot. It certainly threw me for a loop. When I do this review, I tend to go back to a recap of that game to see if I noted something particular at the time. Given that the video cut out most of the play, it was invaluable as it informed me that Colin White left his position. Still, upon focusing for those few seconds of Dadonov's goal, I found that Brodeur had a clear look at Dadonov's shot and the shooter just beat him. It wasn't that impressive of a shot either, so I counted GA #80 as a soft goal against.
Nevertheless, the common theme holds: the majority of these goals against weren't Brodeur's fault. Knowing this on during a terrible statistical month as well as an improved statistical month provides further evidence that the goaltender isn't as porous as we may think him to be at times.
Furthering that notion are the number of skater errors this month: 12 GAs out of a total of 18. Only 6 GAs didn't cause me to identify a skater for making a costly mistake; and 4 of them weren't soft: a deflection on GA #72 and an excellent finish on GA #78. Sometimes it's just a great shot or a great play that beats a goaltender - not necessarily helped out by a skater's error or the goaltender screwing up. GA #79 is a great example of this example, where upon Martin St. Louis split the defense, out-hustled and warded of Andy Greene's attempts to impede him, and pulled off a brilliant backhand to beat Brodeur. The only real fault in the play was possibly Greene trying to stop St. Louis from behind; but I felt that would be too picky. We know he wasn't successful; but if he was, then a penalty shot would have likely been given. Should that result in a goal, then it's Greene's fault. I decided to count that as a great play more so than assisted by some other error. There is an even better example of this concept in February.
The rest have some sort of error and I want to highlight Mark Fraser's errors. He pulled off near-perfect examples of four simple mistakes. Fraser just got on the wrong side of Mattias Rihola in the scrum that became GA #75. The play that became GA #83 turned a 3-on-2 into a 3-on-1 when Fraser mistimed a hit, which led Blake Comeau to just keep on going. Thrown in Henrik Tallinder lamely missing a close pass and Brodeur was hung out to dry. It's important for defensemen to position themselves well for a hit. It's more important that they are aware where they are and where the opposition is. He held position on GA #84 instead of accounting for Michael Grabner, and in said position, he was nutmegged with a pass. While Fraser looked like a pylon, Grabner drove in and found an easy hole through Brodeur's incorrect positioning. Lastly, GA #87 was a classic bad decision - attempting a cross-ice pass with an opposing player in your grill. All it did was set Darren Helm for a breakaway goal. Four great examples of four atrocious errors; I felt Fraser's errors in January were facepalm-inducing enough to go over in more detail. Not that many of the other skater errors were much better (e.g. Losing positions on GA #82, 88; failure to stop guys in front of the goalie on GAs #73, 74, 77, 86). Still, despite my griping, this was an improvement over December if only because I know a lot of these didn't sink the Devils' chances in their respective games.
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.
Most opposition shooters got back to having success going low on Brodeur, be it off a one-timer, off a rebound, or just a shooter finding a seam through Brodeur's position in net. Curiously, Brodeur did get beaten high glove side quite a bit this month. Given the makeup of those 5, I wouldn't conclude too much from it. One was just a rebound over a fallen Brodeur; two were off breakaways; one was a shot through some traffic; and only one was soft (GA #85). It wasn't like opponents were just looking to Brodeur's left over and over to find success.
Brodeur's numbers got better in January and they go on to continue looking good for two more months. In the first three months of this season, the goals allowed by Martin Brodeur were mostly not his fault despite some bad stats in October, November, and December. That finding really hasn't changed when the team as a whole played better hockey. To me, that suggests that Brodeur has been more consistent this season than we may have thought.
Perhaps you have a different opinion. Do you agree with my count of soft goals and/or skater errors? Were you surprised to find that Brodeur was not at fault for the majority of goals in a month with an improved overall performance by the team? Do you think that Mark Fraser's errors in January were great examples of errors in general? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brodeur's performance in January in the comments.