As a fan of the New Jersey Devils and Martin Brodeur for two decades, it may be hard to single out some of the better performances. However, there were certainly some performances he had in net where you just had to look and be amazed, because he singlehandedly stole the show.
Now before I get into some of the more memorable performances, let me add in a qualifier: there is no way I can cover every single standout performance that he had. The man had 125 shutouts in his career, all but one of those in the red and black. Each one of those could be considered a standout performance given that he did not let up a goal. There were also many other games where he may have given up a goal or two, but his overall performance could be considered above and beyond for the game's importance or because of the amount of shots he faced. And furthermore, there could have been certain plays in games that would be considered standout, but they took place in a game where his overall play was not above and beyond.
So just remember as you read this: these standout performances are only a small snapshot of what Brodeur accomplished in his career. That in itself speaks to his extraordinary nature. I could probably write an article a day for a week plus and still not be able to cover all of his amazing performances. The ones that I will cover are some of the best of the best of the best, and also some that I personally remember watching live and being amazed. Please feel free to add other standout performances by him that you remember in the comments. If you guys can do that, then as a group we can really do a good job at cataloging many of his awesome games right here.
Just for the sake of some consistency, the games that I will discuss here are in chronological order, not in any perceived order of greatness. That is something we can debate as fans.
1994 Quarters Game 6 - Buffalo 1, Devils 0
In one of the better playoff goaltending duals in NHL history, this is the only game to make my list where Brodeur actually lost. However, to not include this game would be akin to treason. The Devils were leading 3-2 in their quarterfinals matchup against the Dominik Hasek-led Buffalo Sabres. Game 6 was in Buffalo as the Devils were the higher seed, and both goalies entered that game deciding that they would single handedly win it for their teams.
And both attempted to do that in a game that went over 125 minutes long. It was 2 games in one, with the game finally being decided in the 4th overtime. Brodeur would save 49 Buffalo shots before finally letting the 50th by him, for a .980 save percentage. The Dominator, on the other hand, saved all 70 shots the Devils threw his way. Yes you heard that right, 70 shots. He had a 70 shot shutout. There's almost nothing you can do there but tip your hat to him.
It was indeed one of the greatest goaltending performances on both sides, and for Brodeur, was one of his best games in terms of saves. Here is a highlight video of the entire series. Some of the saves by both goaltenders were insane:
1997 Quarters Game 1 - Devils 5, Montreal 2
This was the first game of the 1997 playoffs for New Jersey, and it was a series that they would go onto win 4 games to 1. Brodeur had a good game in this one, stopping 28 of 30 saves for a .933 save percentage. The real reason to include this game, however, was for the one play that he made with about a minute to go in the game:
Of course, it was his first NHL goal of his career, and the only one that he physically shot down ice himself. The other two were mistakes by the opposing team where he just happened to be the last person on NJ to touch the puck. He is one of only 11 goalies in NHL history to have recorded a goal, and one of only two goalies to have done it in the playoffs.
While the goal itself did nothing but ice a game that was basically finished, the fact that he was able to achieve such a feat, and do it in the playoffs nonetheless, was just another indicator of his greatness. The game in its entirety might not have been a standout performance for Marty, but the goal itself was one of the standout plays of his career.
2000 Stanley Cup Finals Game 6 - Devils 2, Dallas 1
Game 6 of the 2000 Stanley Cup Finals would ultimately be the deciding game in the series. The game was in Dallas, but the Devils held a 3-2 series advantage. Apart from game 1 of the series where NJ dominated by a score of 7-3, all the games had been close. 3 of those other 4 games were 1 goal games. In game 5 in East Rutherford, the Devils lost 1-0 in triple overtime as Ed Belfour scored himself a 48 save shutout. Game 5 was arguably Marty's better game of the series actually, as he himself stopped 40 of 41 in the 106 minute losing effort.
However, I mark game 6 as the game to remember because it is the one that gave the Devils the Cup. Marty knew that he had to be brilliant for a second game in a row, and he was. He was not peppered quite as much as in game 5, but he did stop 30 of 31 in an 88 minute, double overtime game. The fact that he was as good as he was for 2 straight games, he essentially put the team on his back and led them to that Cup that year. You almost felt bad for Belfour too, as in game 6 he managed to stop 43 of 45. He was equally as brilliant, but he just fell short. The highlights of that huge game 6 are here:
2002 Olympic Goal Medal Game - Canada 5, USA 2
The 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City marked the first time in 50 years that Team Canada would manage to win gold in their most coveted sport: hockey. That team was undeniably stacked, especially in net where the team was lucky enough to employ the likes of Martin Brodeur, Ed Belfour, and Curtis Joseph.
In the goal medal game, however, Canadian coach Pat Quinn went with Brodeur, and he did not disappoint. While the story of the game was undeniably offense, with Team Canada potting 5 goals against USA goalie Mike Richter, Brodeur would stop 31 of 33 shots. That USA team was no pushover either, with the likes of Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull, Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Brian Rolston, Brian Rafalski, Brian Leetch, and others. Stopping 31 of 33 against that team was a great feat, especially with the weight of the Canadian nation on his shoulders, a nation at that time that had not won Olympic gold in 50 years.
Here is a rather long highlight video of that game. I'm not the biggest fan of the video, but it is the best I can find on YouTube:
2003 Stanley Cup Finals Game 7 - Devils 3, Anaheim 0
Game 7, Stanley Cup Finals. It was the second time that Marty was ever in the position. The first time he did not play well enough, losing to an excellent Colorado squad. This time, however, he would not be denied his glory and his Cup.
In the game, Brodeur would go on to stop all 24 shots that came at him, and would pick up another shutout for his career. This one, however, was arguably the most important of his career as winning the game meant winning it all. 24 shots is not an incredible amount, but in such a high stakes game, shutting the opponent out is no small feat, regardless of how many shots are faced.
Here is a great highlight video of the game narrated by Gary Thorne:
2008-09 Regular Season Game 69 - Devils 3, Chicago 2
I've certainly skipped a lot of time between 03 and 09, but in the interest of time and space it made sense. He did win 4 Vezina Trophies in that time frame, but for the next standout performance, I have to go with a career milestone. This regular season win happened to be Marty's 552nd win of his career, which vaulted him over Patrick Roy for number one on the list. It was a good win for him as well, a 30 save performance against a very good Chicago team that was surging towards an eventual Stanley Cup victory the following season. By this point our blog was in existence thanks to John, and his recap of the game can be found here.
Brodeur would of course follow up this milestone with more, winning his 600th game against Atlanta a year later, this time as a 3-0 shutout. John's recap of that game is here. While that game was arguably a better performance from Marty as it was a shutout, I feel that win #552 is more iconic than 600 at this point in time, and since both were still quality wins, I went with that. However, for the sake of argument, we can lump both together as excellent performances.
A recap video of win #552 is here:
2009-10 Regular Season Game 35 - Devils 4, Pittsburgh 0
Just like the last one was a milestone, so is this one, and this one is perhaps even more impressive. This one gave Marty his 104th career shutout, which put him at the top of the all-time list, passing Terry Sawchuk. Brodeur would go on to produce 125 shutouts in all, 124 for our favorite team.
The record breaker was done three weeks after he had tied Sawchuk for the record, beating Buffalo 3-0. The game against Pittsburgh that gave him sole possession of first was a great one. Pittsburgh was the defending Stanley Cup Champions that season, and had an offense that seemed to be unbeatable. Brodeur did not care, however. He would stop 35 shots in that game, while Marc-Andre Fleury imploded, allowing 4 goals in 16 shots before being replaced halfway through the game. It was an all-star performance by Marty, and it was a performance that absolutely deserved to be the one that broke the record. It was not a 16 save shutout against a bottom feeder. It was a 35 save dominant performance against an offensive powerhouse. It was a record well earned. The recap from John can be found here.
The video here is from the New Jersey Devils themselves, in preparation for retirement night:
2012 Conference Finals Game 6 - Devils 3, New York 2
The last game on my list is the most recent in all our memories and one of the sweeter ones for sure. While the Devils were leading the series against New York 3-2 at the time, no one felt any confidence that NJ could win if they had to go back to Manhattan for a game 7. It was imperative that a win was had that night at the Rock.
And thanks to Brodeur, a win was indeed had. Over 61+ minutes of play, a 40 year old Marty would make 33 strong saves for his team. It was a huge win for him for several reasons. One was because of his age. We all knew that this would be one of his last with the team, and he was making the most of it, giving his team and us fans another chance at the Cup. Another was because of who he beat. Brodeur had had trouble against NY in the postseason in recent years, but managed to buck that trend by sending them packing for the summer. And finally...it was just a huge win against a huge rival at a huge time, and at that clutch moment, he came up aces for one final time.
I can't find a highlight video of just that game in particular, but here is the video that will make any Devils fan smile:
As I mentioned above, these are but a few of Martin Brodeur's standout performances. Some of these are because of pure skill and excellence. Some are because he was great at the right moment. And others are milestone moments. But all of them are memorable games and memorable moments that highlight his illustrious career. As a 29 year old lifelong Devils fan, I knew nothing but a world with Martin Brodeur as the backbone of my favorite team for almost all of my life. To be able to go back and look back at some of his better moments, it was sure fun and nostalgic. I hope you also get the same enjoyment by reliving some of these moments, just like I did.
What are some of the other standout performances of Martin Brodeur's career? How does it feel to go back and relive some of these awesome moments as a Devils fan? How excited are you to see his number hung from the rafters on Tuesday? Again, I hope that you all add to this list, writing about more of his awesome games in the comments. Let's get a good long list going. Thank you all for reading.