March truly began for Martin Brodeur twenty-one days into the month. Brodeur got hurt near the end of February and the back spasms he suffered from sidelined him until March 21, when he made his return in Carolina. While Brodeur was out, the team's results sputtered, including a six-game winless streak. The hope was that with #30 in net, the team would perform better and make a late push for the postseason. The first two games went well enough. However, the team wouldn't be able to pick up a win after those two, losing three beyond regulation. Some of that lies on poor play, particularly when holding onto a one-goal lead in those two month-ending games in Tampa Bay and Florida. But how much of it does it fall on the goaltender, the one who bears the mark of a goal allowed regardless of situation or circumstance?
|March 2013 - Martin Brodeur||5||312||2||0||3||11||2.12||105||94||.895||0|
It's a fair question given that Brodeur didn't exactly sparkle on the statline for the month of March. It is worth noting that he did face an average of 21 shots per game, so any goal allowed would cause a bit more harm to his save percentage. That said, even in a shortened month, a save percentage below 90% requires should raise at least an eyebrow in his direction. Let's do more than that. Let's at least look at the eleven goals he did allow in the month of March. I know it's short, but it's a good lead in to a nearly month-long amount of information in April.
About the Review
For those of you are unaware, here's an explanation of what it is that I'm doing. 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/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. Breakaways are done on a case-by-case basis; there I usually look to see whether the goalie has at least made an effort. I do expect the most disagreement with them.
In addition, there are other traits I've recorded I have denoted skater errors by player and scoring chance. I assign a skater error by name under "Errors" if the player did something significantly wrong that led to the goal such as a turnover or not covering their man. It's arguable that all goals allowed have an error or some kind; these are for the egregious mistakes made. If it's something like a bad line change, I'll use "Bench." As for scoring chances, that's dependent on where the shot was fired. Anything between the two faceoff dots towards the top of the crease would count. Anything outside of that has not. I've erred against counting a chance if it's borderline, for what it's worth. I also denote the general position of where the shot beats the goaltender relative to the goaltender's position.
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 11 Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in March 2013: A Chart
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||S.E.||SC?||Sit.|
|3/21||31||Past the glove.||Skinner gets the puck by the left boards and fires one in from distance.||Yes||Link||--||No||PP|
|3/23||32||Empty net off a turnover||Brodeur loses the puck behind the net to Fleischmann. He feeds Mueller for the easy score.||Yes||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|3/25||33||Under the right arm||Ottawa wins faceoff, Phillips gets the puck at the right point. He fires through traffic and it goes in.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|3/25||34||Over and past the blocker||Turris fires a shot between Volchenkov and Larsson as Greening goes between both. Brodeur stops the shot, Greening puts in rebound.||No||Link||
|3/29||35||Between the legs in the air||Harrold's clearance is stopped and a shot/pass is fumbled by Volchenkov. Stamkos gets it down low, bats in his own rebound in mid-air||No||Link||
|3/29||36||Over the glove||Thompson chases down a long pass, gets it in between Harrold & Volchenov, charges the net, and the puck goes off Brodeur's blocker, then Volchenkov's calf, and then the net.||No||Link||Volchenkov||No||ES|
|3/29||37||Through the skates||Killorn gets it to Stamkos in the right corner. Stamkos comes out, looks, and puts one through Brodeur's skates.||Yes||Link||Volchenkov||No||ES|
|3/29||38||On the left flank||TB sets up with the extra man, Stamkos passes through a giant lane across the zone to Killorn for a one-timer equalizer.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|3/30||39||Past the right pad||Kulikov gets the puck across to Huberdeau. Huberdeau throws a glancing pass to Matthias, who re-directs it in front with his skate.||No||Link||--||Yes||PP|
|3/30||40||On the left flank||Upshall bangs down a rebound with a high stick. Kopecky throws a shot on net. Puck bounces to Matthias in the slot. Equalizer.||No||Link||
|3/30||41||Through the legs||Brodeur (or someone) denies Kulikov at the net. Florida recovers and an open Kulikov gets it at left dot. He fires one low and in.||No||Link||Salvador||Yes||ES|
Relative Location of the 11 Goals Allowed
All locations listed are relative to Brodeur himself, not necessarily where the puck goes into the net. There wasn't one particular area that Brodeur got beat more than anywhere else, other than low shots in general. Though, a few of those weren't stoppable, although one could have been prevented by Brodeur.
The funny thing about doing these kind of reviews is that you find out events you forgot about. For example, look at GAs #31 and 32. While Brodeur certainly did well in only allowing one goal in each of his first two games, they both were stoppable goals. GA #31 came from an area where most goals aren't scored, Brodeur saw it the whole way, and it still beat him. GA #32 was actually created by Brodeur since he pulled a Moose behind the net. He dallied on the puck, lost it to a Panther, who then fed his teammate for an easy score. Good games, but a poor start in the context of looking at goals allowed.
Unfortunately, the other three games in the month would yield more goals allowed. Most of them weren't soft goals, but they hurt the team nonetheless. Among the other nine, I only tagged GA #37 as a soft one. I don't anticipate much argument against it. Steve Stamkos just turned, looked, saw a hole between Brodeur's skates, and slid it in. That was a poor one to allow and in retrospect on that night, it really did hurt as it gave Tampa Bay an opportunity to tie it up late - which they did. That was it for soft goals. One could make an argument for GA #41, the overtime winner by Dmitry Kulikov, since he didn't really recover from an initial stopping attempt to get into form. But I didn't think Brodeur saw all of that thanks to Bryce Salvador coming out late in a lame attempt to challenge him (Aside: watch that goal and ask "Why did Salvador stop at his own net?"), so I only counted three soft goals out of eleven.
Incidentally, only just over half of the goals allowed in March were from scoring chances. Two were from long distance shots, GAs #31 and 33 - the latter went through traffic. GA #36 was a bad bounce off A-Train's calf; the soft goal in the Tampa Bay game came from outside of the zone so that didn't count, and the shot that was GA #38 was just outside of it as well. I'd chalk that up to coincidence since the population involved is only eleven goals allowed in five games.
By the way, this was the month where the Devils blew two leads on back-to-back nights with last-minute equalizers. The equalizers themselves weren't Brodeur's fault. GA #38 was on his flank as a result of a one-timer from a really quick pass from Stamkos. I didn't tag any particular skater as making an error for that one. Though I should note that any time there's a giant lane across the zone in a 6-on-5, it's not going to end well for the defenders. GA #40 was a hard shot that bounced out into the slot, leading to Shawn Matthias scoring on the flank. That one did have two errors: Marek Zidlicky's clearance off the faceoff getting picked off (you'll see it in the replay for that video), and Andy Greene being at the crease and looking at the puck but not paying attention to the streaking Matthias in the slot. They were crushing moments at the time, yet still disappointing to see again.
In terms of errors, Anton Volchenkov "shined" in this month. On GAs #34 and 36, you can see him get torched despite being in a position to either push ahead. While GA #36 really was an accident of sorts, and he knew he didn't do well as he slammed his stick down in frustration after the goal. Had he took better position, those two goals may not have happened. I tagged him on GAs #35 and #37 for not playing the puck well enough. For GA #35, I understand he caught that shot/pass from the point in an awkward way. He needed to knock it forward. Instead, it dropped backward and made it easy for Stamkos to get a shot off. For GA #37, he initially had the puck. He knew there was pressure coming so he played it away. However, he put it off the boards behind him, which only helped Killorn recover it. As A-Train useless slid by that Bolt, Killorn fed Stamkos. Clearly, March 29 wasn't a good night for Volchenkov and GA #35 in Ottawa was a poor moment.
Ultimately, I don't think Brodeur was all that great in retrospect, but I do think he wasn't as poor as the numbers suggest. Then again, there were only five appearances to go through. How he looks in April will reveal a bit more, even though some of those games had even lower shot totals.
Given that you've taken this all in, watched the videos, and read my commentary, it's now your turn to give your take. What do you make of Martin Brodeur's performance in March? Would you agree that the three soft goals actually were goals Brodeur should have stopped? Did you think there were any others? Do you have any commentary about the goals allowed themselves? Please leave your answers and other comments about Brodeur's March 2013 performance in the comments. This series will return in two weeks, after the draft and free agency, with a look at April 2013. Thank you for reading.