Martin Brodeur remained the starting goaltender for the New Jersey Devils through the lockout-shortened 2013 season. For a third straight season, injury caused him to miss several weeks but he still played a majority of the team's games. Whether he's been effective is another matter. In 2013, Brodeur's even strength save percentage reached a three-season high. However, a horrid penalty killing save percentage sank his overall save percentage down below 91% - a mark he didn't hit for a third straight season. While Brodeur has been able to put up solid performances, clearly he's not the same Marty he once was.
I've reviewed Brodeur's goals allowed for the season and playoffs in each of the last four summers. Waiting until the offseason makes it easier to review the goals without lamenting what it meant for the game and/or season. I've been doing this to figure out what went wrong and if there are any patterns or trends. The biggest aspect I've looked for have been whether the goal allowed should have been stopped. A soft goal, if you will. By defining parameters, I went through each season month by month counting up how often it happened and where the puck beat the goalie relative to his own location. Three seasons ago, I took down the names of Devils skaters who made errors on goals allowed to see if any one kept appearing. Two seasons ago, I noted whether the goal scored would be counted as a scoring chances. With all of this in mind, this summary of this season's review is deeper than ever. You'll learn which defenseman's foul-ups have been the most costly and whether Brodeur has been giving up more soft goals than in past seasons.
Reviewing the Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in 2013 by Month
If you want to see the breakdown of how the review went by month or a more detailed explanation of what this all is, please check out the following links:
- January 2013: 5 games played, 12 goals allowed
- February 2013: 8 games played, 18 goals allowed
- March 2013: 5 games played, 11 goals allowed
- April 2013: 11 games played, 24 goals allowed
The Relative Location of All Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in 2013
With a shortened season, no one specific location really stuck out as a problem for Martin Brodeur. However, taken as a whole, two areas definitely were: low shots and shots to Brodeur's left. Now, this would be more meaningful if there were shot counts by location. It wouldn't surprise me if Brodeur faced many more shots that were low to the ice (or right on it) since those are easier to take than trying to aim high. In that case, having more goals allowed that were low (32 total, 14 at mid-height, 19 high GAs) wouldn't be such a concern.
That said, I am more concerned about how he is glove-side. While some of these were definitely on his flank or through a screen and really couldn't be stopped unless Brodeur had a premonition or just luckily guessed right, it's telling that 30 of the 65 - just under half - goals allowed went past his left side as opposed to the 19 on his blocker side.
The Skater Errors on Martin Brodeur's Goals Allowed
Among all 65 goals allowed by Martin Brodeur, 40 of them featured some sort of skater error. A skater error had to be something done clearly wrong by a Devil that led to the goal. These range from straight up giveaways to losing their man on defense to just not backchecking enough. One could go deeper and point out other errors on the goals; these were counted when it was clear upon review. Keep in mind that an error does not absolve Brodeur of giving up a soft goal. There were soft goals that featured a mistake by a teammate.
A majority of the goals allowed in each month featured at least one Devil making an error. There was a lower rate of errors as the season went on, but given the low number of games played, I'm hesitant to call it a trend. Of these 40, I tagged only one skater in 32 of them. The other eight of them had more than one, but no more than three. In total, there were 50 errors made across these 40 goals allowed that had at least one Devil making a mistake of sorts. Here's the full list, split up between forwards (bottom) and defensemen (top):
There weren't any full-on bench errors like a bad line change for any of the goals allowed. And no one forward really piled up the errors. Ilya Kovalchuk led them with three, which makes some sense since he played in all situations and more than all of the other forwards. Travis Zajac was the only one more than none.
However, I would guess you're paying more attention to the upper part of this list. As you should since the eight defenders combined for 38 errors. When a defenseman makes a mistake, it can be really costly since they're usually playing closer to goal. That said, I'm shaking my head at Anton Volchenkov. He only had a few in front of Hedberg, but Volchenkov derailing himself hit Brodeur hard on several occasions. The Captain, Bryce Salvador also didn't come out well either. But that's somewhat mitigated by the fact that he played a lot so he had more time to make errors and/or have those errors hurt the team on the scoreboard. Volchenkov finished eighth among the eight regulars in average ice time with 16:03 per game in 2013. He got limited minutes and still manage to have a hand in ten goals against, or about 15% of all of the goals Martin Brodeur allowed in 2013. That's just bad. No wonder some fans would like to see the A-Train leave the Rock. What's somewhat encouraging is that the other non-big minute defenders (Salvador, Greene, Zidlicky) didn't have nearly as many errors as A-Train. I want to briefly highlight Adam Larsson. He didn't have as many botches in front of Brodeur as he did in front of Moose. There's that at last.
Soft Goals Allowed by Martin Brodeur in 2013
Here's the basic summary of all of the soft goals Brodeur allowed in each month in the 2013 regular season.
At first glance, this doesn't seem so bad. Broduer only allowed 17 soft goals in total, a fraction of the 65 he gave up all season. Once again, a majority of the goals allowed weren't bad goals. And in his most active month, he averaged just over two goals allowed per game, which also isn't awful. At the same time, this means a little more than one out of every four goals Brodeur allowed should have been stopped. In that sense, that's not so good. Brodeur did improve somewhat as the season went on but I would take that with a grain of salt - especially since he missed most of March with back spasms. Even so, Brodeur got tagged for a few soft goals in each month. This means he didn't have one really awful month in this regard, but it was a consistent issue.
In terms of where those goals allowed came from, a majority of them did come from scoring chances. Without a full count of all scoring chances allowed, I can't tell you how good Brodeur really was from shots from the crease to the top of the circles within the dots. Likewise, I can't tell you how good the defense was at preventing those chances. I can tell you that opposition players found success from scoring those areas. February 2013 really stands out from the pack as all but three goals were scored in that dangerous area of the defensive zone.
Let's break down this soft goal count further by checking the situation of goals allowed:
Nearly all goals allowed by Brodeur in 2013 happened at even strength or the power play. Only two shorthanded goals were scored on Brodeur. None of them were soft and, in fact, both came in the same game. Still, the power play count of soft goals is worrisome. There were several examples of Brodeur (and Hedberg) getting hung out to dry by the penalty kill. Way back in February, I did a breakdown of several examples of just poor play by the skaters as evidence of that. At the same time, Brodeur just had too many instances on his own since 40% of the power play goals he allowed were one he should have saved. At least he was sturdier (for lack of a better word) at even strength.
Taking chances and skater errors for the 17 soft goals allowed was revealing. A majority of the soft goals allowed were off shots taken in a scoring chance location. Nearly all of them in January and February came from that dangerous zone. That tapered off after Brodeur returned from injury for one reason or another. Probably coincidence, if I had to guess. Incidentally, just over half of the soft goals allowed had at least one skater make an error before the goal. As I noted earlier, an error doesn't absolve Brodeur of a soft goal so it shouldn't be a surprise that a significant fraction of the soft goals had that happen.
Reviewing Brodeur's Soft Goals Over the Past Four Seasons
Now, here comes the "fun" part. Since I've been doing this for four seasons, I can compare Brodeur's amount of soft goals in 2013 to the previous three seasons. I would agree it would be immensely insightful if there were soft goal reviews of most, if not all, other NHL goalies to see how Brodeur stacks up with the rest of the league. It would be helpful to know how often a top performing goaltender gives up soft goals. Perhaps it would be lower, the same, higher, or even vary from goalie to goalie. At least we can compare Brodeur with himself. Here's how 2013 Brodeur stacks up with prior seasons, including the playoffs.
That doesn't look good for 2013 Brodeur. The percentage of soft goals increased over his long 2011-12 season, continuing a rise now lasting over three seasons. Making that hurt more is the fact that Brodeur played a smaller proportion of the season in 2013. With fewer minutes in net, an increase in soft goals allowed further shows Brodeur declining. I don't think that's a rather controversial statement since he was 40. Having a figure shows it off. Keep in mind this table does include the 2010 and 2012 playoffs. As we know, the Devils didn't make it to the second season in 2013. So for the sake of comparing red apples to red apples, here's the last four seasons of soft goals allowed in the regular season:
This may be moot as it doesn't make the 2013 season any better in this regard. At least 2011-12 looked a little better, though with fewer games played. For what it's worth, if I prorate 2013 to an 82 game season and assume Brodeur played about 60% of it while giving up goals at the same rate, it would have been approximately 29 soft goals allowed out of 111 in 49 games. Again, that's not so good in comparison to prior years because of those rates.
Incidentally, this past season showed a higher rate of skater errors on goals allowed than in the prior two seasons. It definitely rose after 2011-12, which does help explain the notion that the defense doesn't always seem so good. It also means Brodeur definitely wasn't alone to blame, if at all, for most goals allowed. Opposing players found more success in the scoring chance area against Brodeur in 2013 too. What that means depends on how you look at it. It doesn't necessarily mean the Devils were poor or got worse at protecting that area since we don't know how many total scoring chances the Devils allowed in either season. It could mean that Brodeur has been better at not allowing shots from the points or sideboards. It could also mean that opposing players had to work more to get into that dangerous area to find a bit more success. It really does mean more investigation to come up with anything hard to conclude.
Nevertheless, this casual qualitative analysis leads me more and more to the conclusion that Martin Brodeur should really be the #2 goalie in 2013. Yes, this year showed that Brodeur was not at fault for a majority of goals allowed. Again, he was actually better than league average at even strength save percentage, which was good for him. However, success can be found on the margins and Brodeur's margin for soft goals allowed doesn't look good after this lockout and injury shortened season. Sure, he did better than Hedberg but that's not saying much. More goals allowed in this season and in past seasons came by his left side more than the right or middle. More goals allowed in this season and in past seasons came in low than at other heights. Most of all, the rate of soft goals increased compared with the past four seasons. I can't say for certain he would have been better with more games played, reducing the effects of really bad ones, though. That's a problem in of itself.
The point of the position is to let in as few goals as possible. While much of that can be contributed by the team and fortune, it's on the goalie to make sure that the ones that do beat them aren't easy. All goalies will make mistakes and will have a few soft ones. But over the past three seasons, the rate they occur to Brodeur is increasing. It's not at the level of Hedberg in 2011-12 or 2013 (he was just below 30%) but it very well could be in 2013-14. Combined with the fact that he really is in the twilight of his career and it's a reason for him to take fewer games. I understand that this is assuming that Cory Schneider will be less prone to soft goals. Given his superior save percentage on Vancouver teams that allowed more shots than New Jersey, I think that's a safer bet than hoping Brodeur will guess less, be more solid behind saving attempts, and makes fewer errors. That's the big-picture takeaway I got from putting this all together. Yes, the majority of the goals Martin Brodeur allowed weren't soft but the current three-season trend isn't looking good.
Now that you've read through the summary of this past season's review of Martin Brodeur's goals allowed, I want to know what you took away from all this. Do you think this is another cause for concern regarding Brodeur's ability to perform at a decent level in 2013-14? Were you surprised to learn where he got beaten the most? How about those skater errors; how much more do you have a distaste for Volchenkov given how many errors he made that turned into goals against? Lastly, would you agree with the larger takeaway I had? Or did you think that should be the plan regardless? Or perhaps not at all? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about the goals Brodeur allowed in 2013 in the comments. Thank you for reading.