It all began in October. The 2013-14 season for the New Jersey Devils ended without postseason play. It ended with Martin Brodeur being given a big ovation by the fans at the Rock and a kind of salute by the players. It ended a long season of treading water, so to speak, from month to month. It ended a campaign that saw the 41-year old Martin Brodeur make 39 starts and finish the season with an overall save percentage just above 90%. All of this began in October.
Starting off any regular season with a seven game winless streak is never good. With constant failure to start and a month ending with only three wins, plenty of blame went around as far as what went wrong. Anyone who wanted to point a finger at the play of Martin Brodeur had a strong case. Brodeur played in six games and allowed eighteen goals. His save percentage in all situations over those six games was a woeful 87.9%. The numbers alone were ugly. Looking back at what the goals were that led to those numbers made me realize how hideous so many of them were. I always make a point of it to do this sort of review after the season as to not let too much emotion get in the way. Yet, after reviewing this month's set, I'm rather confused as to how Brodeur got as many games as he did this season since he really got beaten quite a bit in five of his six appearances in October.
About the Review
For those of you who are unaware of what I'm doing, this is my annual month-by-month review of the goals against each Devils goaltender in each game they played in. Shootouts do not count. I'm starting with Martin Brodeur as he's the pending unrestricted free agent. I will do the same for Cory Schneider later this summer.
I focus on identifying the "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 trait 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.
In addition to that, I look for other factors. I identify where Brodeur was beaten on the goal. I note the game situation: even strength, power play, and shorthanded. I record whether the goal-scoring shot was a scoring chance. Any shot - not a deflection - from the crease out to the dots up to the top of the circles counts as a chance; anything outside of that does not. If I'm not certain, I will go against calling it a chance. Lastly, I denote any particular skater errors by a Devil on the goal allowed. 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. I'm going to be more strict in calling them out. It also doesn't absolve the goaltender for a soft goal against.
Lastly, I have provided links to the video I looked at for each goal from NHL.com. This way if you want to see these for yourself and come to your own conclusion, then you can. These links will auto-play the video, so be forewarned when you click on them.
The 18 Goals Against Martin Brodeur in October 2013
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||Errors||SC?||Sit.|
|10/4||1||Low, under stacked pads||Grabner splits D, Brodeur tries to stack pads, Grabner slips it in under pads.||Yes||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|10/4||2||Low, between legs||Bailey wins puck from Volchenkov, springs Grabner in NZ. Grabner goes to left dot and goes five-hole.||Yes||Link||Volchenkov||No||ES|
|10/4||3||Low, between legs||Neilsen gets puck to goal line, sees Brodeur's legs open when he sweeps stick, backhands it through.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/7||4||Past the glove while down||Scrum in front of crease, puck squirts wide for Nugent-Hopkins to put it home.||No||Link||--||Yes||PP|
|10/7||5||Low, just past right pad||Ference takes a slapshot that goes by two Devils, Brodeur's right pad and inside the post.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/7||6||High over right shoulder||Arcobello's faceoff results in bouncing puck, Perron rifled it over Brodeur.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/7||7||Low, between legs||Defensive breakdown leads to Hall all alone in front. Pokecheck fail; five-hole GA||Yes||Link||Harrold
|10/11||8||High, over right shoulder||Wideman unloads a powerful slapshot past a double-screen to the top corner.||No||Link||--||No||PP|
|10/11||9||Low, past blocker||Giordano dekes Elias, fires a backhander that fools everyone low||Yes||Link||--||Yes||PP|
|10/11||10||Past right side on right flank||Baertschi finds Monahan open above crease; one-times it past Brodeur's right flank||No||Link||Zidlicky||Yes||ES|
|10/17||11||Off the right side||Karlsson fires a slapshot off his right side and in.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/17||12||Low, between legs||Ryan curls around net and puts a turnaround shot through Brodeur.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/17||13||Low, between legs||Karlsson finds Smith open on left at goal line, one times it low through sliding Brodeur.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/17||14||Over right shoulder||Michalek gains the zone and fires a slapshot over the shoulder of a standing Brodeur.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/26||15||Low, between legs||Krug takes a wrist shot, shot goes off Henrique's skate and through.||No||Link||--||No||PP|
|10/26||16||Low, between legs||Iginla goes wide, attempts a pass to middle, hits off Brunner's skates and through Brodeur.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|10/26||17||Low, between legs||Krejci finds Lucic open on a 3-on-2. Lucic steps up and fires one through five-hole.||Yes||Link||--||Yes||ES|
|10/31||18||Low, between legs||Brodeur stops Purcell's shot, puck drops in front of him. Stamkos taps it in through Brodeur before he could recover it.||No||Link||--||Yes||PP|
As a summary of the location data, not included in the big chart, here's the location of all goals allowed from Brodeur in October. Again, these are all relative to Brodeur's location; his left is left and his right is right.
Basically, Brodeur's five-hole was akin to a tunnel in October. Getting beaten ten times between the legs over six games is definitely an auspicious finding. Six of these ten were truly soft goals. The ones that weren't included the first two from the 10/26 game against Boston (GAs #16, 17) which were unfortunate deflections off the skates of other Devils. I didn't tag GA #18 - the long goal allowed on 10/31 against Tampa Bay - as soft as Steve Stamkos potted in a very short, point-blank rebound while lying on the ice; it wasn't an error in my eyes. And the only non-soft goal from 10/17 in October, GA #13, was not soft as the one-timer came on the flank and Brodeur was beaten while sliding. Those are understandable circumstances to be beaten through the legs by a shot.
The other six, though, well, I have nothing else to say but that Brodeur was beaten pretty badly on the other six. I have no explanation or further thoughts beyond "He should've stopped that." His first game of the season, 10/4 against the Islanders, was just atrocious. The very first goal allowed, GA #1, wasn't through the five-hole. The puck went under the pads during a pad-stacking attempt; I didn't know how else to term that. But it was soft as Brodeur had a chance to come up with a stop and, well, didn't. The other two in that game were more traditional through the legs. And they were soft. As was GA #7 when he got caught with Taylor Hall all alone (I still sighed at Peter Harrold and Andrei Loktionov upon watching the video); GA #12 in Ottawa when Bobby Ryan made him look stupid on a turnaround shot; and GA #17 when Milan Lucic just struck it right through him. All bad.
In total, I found a total of ten soft goals. In addition to the six being low and between (or under) the legs, there were a few other stinkers. Brodeur dropping down early as David Perron rifled one over the shoulder off a faceoff, which was GA #6. Mark Giordano deking around Patrik Elias on a power play and somehow fooling Brodeur enough such that a bouncing backhander just got by him. You can see that as GA #9. Brodeur's bad night in Kanata, Ontario began with Erik Karlsson putting in a clear shot off Brodeur (GA #11) and ended with Brodeur just caught standing on Milan Michalek's blast (GA #14). They were bad to re-watch. Considering he let in a total of 18, that's bad in general. Basically, Brodeur was bad in October. His start to the season was atrocious. Even the Calgary and Boston games where he wasn't so bad involved a bad goal. He got it together for the Tampa Bay game, but the damage was done and set the rest of his season to try and fight out of a deep hole.
In terms of other findings, seven of the goals allowed were what I termed were scoring chances. Four of those were also soft. I only noted a few errors. Sure, plenty more of the goals allowed had more minor errors but the only egregious errors came on GAs #2, 7, and 10. The first was an inability to keep a puck that came off Anton Volchenkov's stick, meaning that he could've handled it, didn't, and it led to the scoring play. The latter two were examples of really bad no-coverage situations. Most goals allowed will feature someone just in the wrong spot or just a step behind. On those goals, they were just bizarrely not aware. GA #7 featured Harrold coughing up the puck and Loktionov just watching that instead of Hall coming behind him. You may feel there were other screw ups that should have warranted mention. But, again, I'm going to be really strict with these. Even with the errors and number of scoring chance goals allowed, it doesn't absolve Brodeur. The ten soft ones remain. The eighteen allowed in six games remain. Such as it was. At least November was, well, the start of November was better.
Now you've read the charts, you've seen some or all of the videos, and you've read the commentary. What do you think of Brodeur's October in retrospect? Was he as bad as you may have remembered? Which of the goals allowed were the worst? Which ones do you think weren't so bad? Who else should be tagged for errors? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brodeur's performance in October in the comments. Thank you for reading.