The month of March highlights a big reason why I think there's value in digging deeper into what drove the stats and why I do these reviews every summer. Overall, Martin Brodeur was quite good in March. He wasn't as great as he was in February, but his stats look good for the month. His overall save percentage wasn't too far below 92%. He started in 14 games and finished all of them. He got two shutouts. In the other 12 games, he gave up 31 goals; tied for the most he's allowed in a month in 2011-12. Those extra few games make a bit of a difference as 31 allowed out of 14 total games looks better than 31 allowed out of 10, which Brodeur did in November. From the larger picture, it looks like Brodeur only faded a little bit from his fantastic February.
|March 2011 - Martin Brodeur||14||854||7||5||2||31||2.18||376||345||.918||2
Yet, it wasn't as simple as that. The first half of the month looked great statistically. Before March 16, Brodeur started in seven games, got one shutout, and allowed only ten goals in the other six games. He only allowed more than two goals in one of those seven games; the first of the month, to be precise. In the second half of the month, Brodeur started in seven games, got one shutout, and allowed a whopping 21 goals in the other six games. In five of those games, he allowed at least three goals. Getting beaten that much is rarely good for any goaltender. The great results of the first half of the month and a shutout at the end of the month helped keep Brodeur's stats from taking a nosedive thanks to the second half of March.
Of course, that doesn't get into whether Brodeur could or should have stopped all of those goals. Looking at each of these 31 goals would answer that. Maybe he wasn't at fault for most of the goals allowed when he got lit up. Maybe he should have stopped the one goal he did allow earlier in the month. Please continue on after the jump to find out what happened for these 31 goals allowed in March 2012.
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 changed 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 bit alone can make the difference in what is and is not a soft goal (e.g. Chris Kunitz' goal on March 25 - GA #125 in this post).
In addition, I have denoted skater errors by player and scoring chances by "SC" in the goal description. I assigned a skater error if the player did something significantly wrong that led to the goal such as a turnover or not covering their man. As for scoring chances, that's dependent on where the shot was fired. Anything between the two faceoff dots from the top of the circles to towards the top of the crease would count. Basically, the graphic Jonathan Willis has in this article in the Edmonton Journal shows the area in question. Anything outside of that has not. I've erred against counting a chance if it's borderline, for what it's worth.
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 when you click on them.
The 31 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in March 2012: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video Link||Skater Error|
|3/1||103||Over the glove||Seguin drives in from the left, feathers a pass to Krejci in the slot, who lifts it over Brodeur's glove. SC.||No||Link||Sykora|
|3/1||104||Low, past the left pad||Lucic wins the puck in the corner and finds Seguin open trailing in the high slot. Seguin skates in and fires one low through a semi-screen. SC.||No||Link||Henrique|
|3/1||105||Past the right arm||Sailing puck gets gloved down, bounced towards left post, Krejci jams it in mid-air past sliding Brodeur. SC.||No||Link|
|3/1||106||Over the left shoulder||Chara attempts a jam at the right post, Brodeur stops him, puck bounces out to the slot. Krejci takes it and slams it high over a diving Brodeur. OTGA. SC.||No||Link|
|3/4||107||Low, past the glove||Okposo overpowers Volchenkov and carries the puck to the slot. He fires a wrister that beats Brodeur straight up. SC.||Yes||Link||Volchenkov|
|3/6||108||Over the right shoulder||Hagelin wins the puck behind the net and attempts a pass to the slot. It deflects off Parise, bounces to Stepan, who hammers it in with a one-timer. SC.||No||Link|
|3/8||109||Off the right side of the body||3-on-2 rush results in an Ullstrom shot getting deflected by Bailey. It's knocked wide for MacDonald, who sees the right post not covered. Off Brodeur's body and in.||Yes||Link|
|3/11||110||Low, through the legs||Jagr heads into the zone on the right side, as he curls around boards, he lays off a pass for Giroux right in front. He scores on the one-timer. SC.||No||Link||Elias|
|3/13||111||Low, past the glove of a fallen goalie||Dump-in takes a bounce off the boards and Brodeur's body. Couturier swooped in to tap it in. SC.||No||Link|
|3/13||112||Over the glove||Briere forces a pass to the middle for Voracek. It bounces off Larsson, Brodeur keeps it out, Voracek lobs in the rebound. SC.||No||Link||Larsson|
|3/17||113||Past the left pad||Malkin wins the faceoff, Neal one-times it low through traffic.||No||Link|
|3/17||114||Past the left pad||Staal lays it off for Dupuis on the sideboards. He unloads a shot through a screen that picked far post.||No||Link|
|3/17||115||Low, through the legs||Crosby drives in, finds Cooke driving to the net, throws a pass to the top of the crease, and it's off Cooke's skate and in.||No||Link||Greene|
|3/17||116||Over the glove||Crosby gets a lane to make a cross-ice pass from the sideboards to Malkin. Wide-open Malkin fires a laser of a one-timer from the right dot. PPGA. SC.||No||Link|
|3/17||117||Over the glove||Kennedy gets around Larsson and loses it to the slot. Cooke slams the loose puck up and over Brodeur. SC.||No||Link||Larsson
|3/19||118||Past the right pad||4-on-2 rush for Rangers finishes with Dubinsky firing a wrist shot and in. SC.||Yes||Link|
|3/19||119||Over the right shoulder||Puck bounces to Girardi, who settles it and fires a wrister from distance. It hit the top corner.||Yes||Link|
|3/19||120||On the left flank||Richards fires a long shot from the right post, Brodeur stops it, Callahan passes the point-blank rebound to Zuccarello for an easy one-timer. PPGA. SC.||No||Link||Salvador|
|3/19||121||Over the right shoulder||Dubinsky fires a shot from distance and Stepan deflects it up and over Brodeur.||No||Link|
|3/23||122||Over the diving goaltender||Brodeur stops a long one-timer from Schenn. Point-blank rebound is smacked into the net by Bozak. SC.||No||Link||Henrique|
|3/23||123||Low, through the legs||Ill-advised line change gives Leafs makeshift 5-on-3. Gardiner fires one above the high slot, Kadri deflects it into the net.||No||Link|
|3/23||124||Between the right arm and body||Crabb puts a shot off the post, Steckel out-muscles Greene, and slides a shot through Brodeur. SC.||Yes||Link||Greene|
|3/25||125||Into an empty net||Brodeur loses the puck to Malkin behind the net, he fires a pass to a streaking Kunitz for an easy goal. SC.||Yes||Link|
|3/25||126||Over the right shoulder||Larsson giveaway keeps possession for Pens. Staal gets it in the slot and wrists one high (deflected?) past Brodeur. SC.||No||Link||Larsson|
|3/25||127||Past the blocker||Adams shot on a 2-on-1 rush is stopped, rebound gets to Dupuis, and the puck is slammed into the net through traffic. SC.||No||Link||Fayne|
|3/25||128||Low, through the legs||Crosby pants Zidlicky, has a makeshift breakaway, beats Brodeur. SC.||Yes||Link||Zidlicky|
|3/27||129||Low, through the legs||Seabrook fires a slapshot from the right point and it gets through traffic and into the net.||No||Link||Kovalchuk|
|3/29||130||Low, through the legs||Brodeur stops a long shot from Hedman deflected by Stamkos, a wide-open Malone stashes in the rebound. SC.||No||Link||Salvador|
|3/29||131||Low, through the legs||Malone collects the puck in the corner and sees St. Louis on the flank. He fires a pass, the puck goes off Zidlicky's skates and past Brodeur||No||Link|
|3/29||132||Under the right arm||Brodeur stops the long shot from Hedman, Malone collects the puck, gets denied, curls left and slides the puck under Brodeur. SC.||No||Link||Salvador|
|3/29||133||Low, through the legs||Wallace beats Greene to a dump-in, sees Smith with a step on Elias, and fires a pass. Smith one-times it in. SC.||No||Link||Elias|
Location of Goals Allowed
All locations are relative to Brodeur's position, not necessarily where the puck goes into the net. It's simplistic and generalized, but it's good for getting a count on where Brodeur was beaten for goals.
Out of the 31 goals allowed, I counted seven goals as soft. That's about 22% of all goals allowed in the month, which isn't too bad. I'm sure I'll get some criticism for counting GA #128 as soft. After all, Sidney Crosby torched Marek Zidlicky and created a breakaway that he finished. On the other hand, I saw it like some of the other breakaway goals allowed in this review. Brodeur did see Crosby coming in all alone as Zidlicky was beaten at the blueline; and Crosby went five-hole without much of a deke. If Crosby made a move that forced Brodeur to move, I might have considered it otherwise. But I felt Brodeur could have done better than getting caught with the top of his five hope open.
The other six are less debatable in my opinion. Brodeur only allowed one goal on March 4, but it (GA #107) happened to be the one where Kyle Okposo fired a wrister that just caught Brodeur unaware. Sure, Anton Volchenkov should get plenty of blame for getting beaten for so much distance, but it was a stoppable shot. On March 8, Brodeur had another one-goal game where he could've stopped the one. While Andy MacDonald scored from behind the goal line, GA #109 wouldn't have happened if Brodeur covered the right post. He got caught after the rebound and MacDonald knew to he had a chance to put the shot off Brodeur's side and into the net. He succeeded. I will admit that it was hard to get too mad about about those soft goals since they were the only ones allowed.
The other four, not so much. March 19 against Our Hated Rivals wasn't such a good night for him. While a four-on-two rush is a bad situation, Brodeur was caught slow with his pad on GA # 108. He got beat on a floater from distance from Dan Girardi on GA #109 which was bad then as it was watching it again in August. On March 23, seeing David Steckel out-muscle Andy Greene was bad but so was Brodeur getting caught underneath the arm as seen in GA #124. It looked like had some of it, and if a goalie had some of it, then it usually means he could have had all of it. Lastly for soft goals, Brodeur had a Moose Moment on GA #125.
As usual, this also means that a majority of the goals allowed weren't soft ones. More interestingly was that this includes most of the games where Brodeur was shelled in. In the first game of the month, Brodeur didn't allow anything soft in the four allowed - including all three of David Krejci's goals (GAs #103, 105, 106) - to Boston. In the last game of the month, none of the four allowed to Tampa Bay - including all three of Ryan Malone's goals (GAs #130, 131, 132) - were soft. In fact, GA #131 was a literal bad bounce. None of the five allowed to Pittsburgh on Retro Jersey Day were bad. One could make a case for GA #114, the one where Pascal Dupuis fired a wrister from the sideboards and found the low left corner of the goal. I didn't count it as soft because I don't think Brodeur saw it; there was a Devil skater screening him. Additionally, it was a perfectly placed shot. Even if you do want to count that, the other four (GAs #113, 115, 116, 117) certainly weren't bad goals to allow. The point is that just because the box score shows the goalie getting beaten a lot or has a terrible looking save percentage like 16 saves out of 20 shots on March 31, it doesn't necessarily mean the goals allowed could have been or should have been stopped. Stuff like that happens, especially if the rest of the team doesn't show up.
And there were quite a few games like that in March where the Devils' effort just wasn't good either on offense, on defense, or both. I found quite a few skater errors in this month, mostly in the second half of March. Usually, a player has to do something egregious to get dinged for an error in my eyes. The lack of coverage (e.g. Bryce Salvador not picking up Malone on GA #130), guys getting over powered (GAs #107, 124), and guys not making plays despite being in a position to do so (e.g. Bryce Salvador getting beaten for a loose puck and unable to stop Malone before GA #132) are all examples of how a goaltender can be victimized. Throw in a lack of goal support or even possession for, say, a period, and a goaltender's life can be that much harder.
Additionally in this review, I found that 22 of the 31 goals (about 71%) came on scoring chances. I'm getting a bit more experienced in identifying where the shot is being taken and whether that's in that scoring chance zone. The fact that so many goals came from there speaks to how opponents got to those areas and how dangerous that area really is. Incidentally, only two of the seven soft goals I counted came outside of that area. That means five of those 22 goals allowed from scoring chances could have been stopped.
Lastly, the location of the goals allowed reveals further evidence that going low on Brodeur may be the thing to do. While Brodeur got beat high for eight goals and another six came at a mid-range height, a whopping 17 went low. Nine of those got in between his legs. While most of those weren't soft as you have to include deflections, point-blank rebounds, and such, that does suggest that spot was vulnerable in the month. Going low to Brodeur's left would also qualify as opponents scored six times there over the month. Again, all of those weren't soft, but it's worth noting. Brodeur isn't a butterfly goaltender and he isn't going to become one. But after seeing so many get past him without much lift in this review, I had to wonder if a butterfly goalie would be more effective. Of course, that doesn't mean that the imaginary goaltender doesn't get beaten low on rebounds, deflections, and such or that opponents just simply go higher on them.
As it turned out, five of the seven soft goals came in the second half of the month. That's not too surprising since Brodeur was beaten more often then. With more goals allowed, more stoppable ones getting through are bound to happen, I suppose. I guess a strong first half of a busy month can make up for a less-than-strong half that ends with a shutout.
That's what I took out of this review, now I want to know what you learned. Do you agree with the seven goals I called as soft? If not, which ones do you disagree with? Did I miss any goals as soft from your opinion? Are you surprised that Brodeur's overall numbers for the month held up despite getting shelled for most of the second half of it? Which game did you feel bad the most for Brodeur? Which game did you think Brodeur could have done much better in? Why do you think Brodeur got beaten low so much in March? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brodeur's performance in the month of March in the 2011-12 season in the comments. Thank you for reading.