Hot. Like it's opposite, cold, it's not entirely clear what makes a goaltender or a player go on a torrid streak of excellent play. It definitely does happen and unlike the slump, it's glorious to watch. It's almost like magic. Yet, it's not at all repeatable. One cannot make a goaltender or a player just perform well above expectations regardless of situation. And those who can handle it over and over aren't just on fire, they are just that good. I refer to it as good fortune for lack of a better answer. Either way, it's fantastic to witness someone on a team that you support and love just play awesome for a run of time.
Martin Brodeur was hot for most of November. In retrospect, November 2013 was by far his most successful as a goaltender in 2013-14. He made nine starts and conceded only fifteen goals. He had two of his three shutouts of the season, back-to-back on November 7 against Philadelphia and November 10 against Nashville. Brodeur's save percentage for the month was a simply great 93.2%. From October 26 through November 20, Brodeur went on a 7-1 run where he only conceded more than two goals twice and won five straight starts from November 7 through November 20. And he didn't concede nearly as many bad goals as he did in October. The aftermath of that run was not so pretty; but this month featured Brodeur at his best in 2013-14.
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 15 Goals Against Martin Brodeur in November 2013
|Date||GA#||Where Beaten?||GA Description||Soft?||Video||Errors||SC?||Sit.|
|11/2||19||Over the blocker||Meszaros takes a shot from the top of the circle, Schenn deflects it in front past Brodeur.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/12||20||Past the right pad||Zuccarello comes around the net and finds Staal above right circle. He hammers a low shot past screens that got in.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/12||21||Low, between legs||Girardi fires a shot from the center point, it hits off Larsson's skate and goes through the legs||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/16||22||Over the fallen goaltender, off the stick||Kunitz is on a breakaway and Brodeur dives for a pokecheck. The puck ramps off the stick, up and into the net.||Yes||Link||Zidlicky||Yes||ES|
|11/20||23||Between the right arm and body||Beleskey fires a shot from the left circle, the shot goes in between Brodeur's right arm and his body.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/20||24||Low, between legs||Fowler's shot is blocked by Penner, which goes right to Bonino. He kicks the puck to his stick and puts it through the legs.||No||Link||--||Yes||PP|
|11/20||25||Past and over left shoulder||Penner misses Perry on a no-look pass into slot. Puck goes all the way out to Getzlaf, who hammers a slapshot to the top left corner through traffic.||No||Link||--||No||PP|
|11/23||26||High, over right shoulder||Hannan takes a slapshot that gets through traffic, hits the back bar and out.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/23||27||Under the right arm||Havlat set up an open Kennedy in the left circle. Kennedy's one-timer was faster than Brodeur.||No||Link||
|11/25||28||Over the glove||3-on-3 becomes 3-on-2 when Jagr goes middle. Frolik found Scheifele, who beat Brodeur.||No||Link||Jagr||Yes||ES|
|11/25||29||Low, between legs||Right off the faceoff, Kane collects puck off sideboards and fires one low through Brodeur's five-hole.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/27||30||Low, past left pad||Faulk fires a shot from the point and it got in short-side.||Yes||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/27||31||Low, past left pad||E. Staal passes to Ruutu charging down the middle; Ruutu one-times it past Brodeur's left pad.||No||Link||Harrold||Yes||ES|
|11/27||32||Well above the glove||Dwyer throws it back to Hainsey at the blueline. Hainsey fires a shot that Elias deflects and goes high past traffic and Brodeur.||No||Link||--||No||ES|
|11/27||33||Low, between legs||Greene can't keep in puck and Dwyer takes it for breakaway. One little move and slides a backhander clean through Brodeur's legs.||Yes||Link||Greene||Yes||SH|
As a summary of the location data, not included in the big chart, here's the location of all goals allowed from Brodeur in November. Again, these are all relative to Brodeur's location; his left is left and his right is right.
In addition to just giving up fewer goals in general, Brodeur was able to cut down on bad goals allowed too. He only conceded five soft goals out of fifteen in November. His five-hole wasn't nearly as open for business. During his great streak to start the month, he only allowed two soft ones. GA #22 did have Brodeur in a bad spot as it was a breakaway but Brodeur's diving pokecheck failed again and actually assisted Chris Kunitz in converting the chance. The last game of that run was in Anaheim and it started with GA #23, where Brodeur just got beaten straight up under the arm. Not good but ultimately not a killer. The Devils would win both of those games, though the one in Anaheim was considerably more dramatic.
Throughout the month, if Brodeur was beaten, then there were other forces at play. GAs #19, 21, and 32 featured deflections of sorts, one by an opposing player and two accidental one by a Devil skater. It appeared he was screened on GA #20 in Rangerstown, even if the short side appeared to be somewhat more open than one may have liked. Brodeur most definitely didn't see the screaming shot by Ryan Getzlaf on GA #24 or the rising shot by Scott Hannan on GA #26. The two-man-disadvantage conversion by Anaheim on GA #25 required two fortunate bounces - a fortunate block by Anaheim, Nick Bonino kicking the puck up to his stick. Brodeur was bested on a few one-timers where he had next to no time to prepare, see: GAs #27 (I tagged Adam Larsson for helping create that situation and Damien Brunner egregiously doing nothing about what was happening in front of him) and 31 (Peter Harrold demonstrated how wrong a failed zone exit attempt can go wrong). It's not that seeing Brodeur being beaten was a good thing; but it was good that they weren't the kinds of shots that he really should be stopping.
That said, the end of the month was not good for Brodeur. Across the 11/25 game against Winnipeg and 11/27 against Carolina, Brodeur allowed six goals and three of those were ones he really should have had. GA #29 was another goal right off a faceoff. The Jets won it, the puck came off the side board, and Evander Kane just flung it low. It somehow got through Brodeur, who was just a bit too slow to react to that one. I can understand those who think that's harsh to tag Brodeur for that one. I don't think there will be much argument about GAs #30 and 33 from the Carolina game. Brodeur was simply beaten shortside by Justin Faulk on a long distance shot, which was GA #30. That's just not good. Andy Greene couldn't keep a puck in at the point during a power play, allowing Patrick Dwyer to go off on a breakaway. While Brodeur fortunately did not go for his poke check, he kept his legs wide so it was an easy finish for the Hurricane forward. That's why I tagged GA #33 as soft.
In terms of other findings, it is worth noting that more goals against went high on Brodeur in November (6) compared to October (3). It's something to look at going forward. Only six out of fifteen came from the scoring chance area. The three deflections were in the area but not counted as chances as they were not actual, attempted shots. I've touched on all of the skater errors except for GA #28. Watching Jaromir Jagr help turn a 3-on-3 into a 3-on-2 wasn't fun. I'll admit to talking to my computer screen when he drifted towards the middle instead of sticking with the eventual goalscorer, Mark Scheifele. Still, I can't complain too much about Brodeur in November. Those last two games were the only poor ones. I don't know why he got both the Winnipeg game and Carolina game; and it's telling that Peter DeBoer went with Schneider for both games of the back-to-back that closed out the month. Regardless, the fact I've only counted a third of Brodeur's goals against as soft compared to five-ninths of his total allowed in October helps represent how much better he was in November. His save percentage of 93.2% was legit. Unfortunately, the good play did not follow into December.
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 play in November? Would you agree he was much better than he was in October? Would you also agree he had a hot run? Which of the goals allowed were the worst? Which ones do you think weren't so bad? Who else should have be marked as making a significant error? Please leave your answers and other thoughts about Brodeur's performance in November 2013 in the comments. Thank you for reading.