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Comparing the Seasons: Brodeur and Holtby

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This year, one of Martin Brodeur's records was tied when Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals reached 48 wins on the season. Let's take a look at some numbers from both seasons to compare the two excellent accomplishments that both achieved.

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

As I am sure you all know by now, this regular season Braden Holtby tied Martin Brodeur's record for most wins in a season by a single goaltender.  Both of them ended their winningest seasons with 48 wins, which is more than anyone else has ever had in the NHL.  It is an amazing feat.  48 wins is more than many teams have in a season period, never mind with only one goaltender.  It requires a lot of skill, a great supporting cast in front of you, good health, and some luck thrown in there as well.

We know that the two are now tied atop the record books for most wins in a season, but let's look at the stats for both of them during their respective 48 win seasons, just to compare and contrast both amazing goalies and their wonderful years.  For an FYI, Marty completed his 48 win season in the 2006-2007 season.  Here is the link to Brodeur's stats listed below, and here is the link to Holtby's.

Player

Games

Wins

Losses

Ties

OTL

Martin Brodeur

78

48

23

0

7

Braden Holtby

66

48

9

0

7

Player

SA

GA

GAA

Sv%

SO

Min

Brodeur

2,182

171

2.18

.922

12

4,697

Holtby

1,802

141

2.20

.922

3

3,842

So those above are the basic stats, covering wins and losses as well as shots against, goals against, goals against average, save percentage, shutouts and total games played and minutes.  Here, there are some crazy similarities.  Their save percentages are identical, and both have near identical goals against averages.  Both also had the same number of overtime losses, which is crazy as well.

You do have to give Holtby credit here for the fact that he was able to get to 48 wins in 12 less starts.  Had he been on the ice for 12 extra games, he would almost certainly have pushed for 60 wins on the year.  Because Washington was so good, however, they were able to rest him and keep him fresh for the playoff push happening right now, which was probably a very smart thing.  Brodeur had to be exhausted by the playoffs, and the Devils suffered as a result, getting burned in 5 games by Ottawa in the second round.

While Holtby's season certainly looks more impressive because he was able to get to 48 in 12 less games played, you have to give Brodeur his credit too.  He did work in those extra starts.  He had 9 more shutouts, which is a significant number.  Considering Holtby only had 3 in 66 starts, you can pretty much guarantee that he would not have gotten 9 more if he had started 12 more times.  12 shutouts in a season is a major feat.  Also, Brodeur was able to maintain an identical save percentage despite playing an extra 855 minutes.  That had to be a grueling, tiring season for Marty, yet he still was clearly on top of his game, his .922 save percentage being a very solid number.  So while he played more and got more losses, there are positives to be said about his season as well.

Of course, it is impossible to compare goalie seasons without looking at the teams in front of them as well, as that plays a significant role in how many games a goalie would win.  Just look at Cory Schneider for example: he had a better save percentage this season than both of them had in their winningest seasons, .924, but he went 27-25-6 thanks to a poor team in front of him.  So here are some stats for the 2006-07 Devils and this year's Washington Capitals.  Stats courtesy of NHL.com (06-07) (15-16)

Team

Points

GF

GA

GF/GP

SF/GP

SA/GP

Devils

107

206

193

2.51

28.7

28.4

Capitals

120

248

191

3.02

30.6

28.4

Well, first let's say that the defensive numbers are fairly similar.  The Devils of 06-07 allowed only 2 more goals than this season's Caps, and both allowed identical shots against per game.  The shots against stat specifically signals that both teams' defenses were both fairly capable, and did a quality job of preventing their goaltenders from being peppered most nights.  28.4 is not the best number in the world, but it put the Devils 8th in the NHL in that category that year, and this year Washington finished 6th in the NHL in that category.  That's good.

The numbers that are not similar, however, are the offensive numbers.  And whoa, do they make this year's Caps look a lot better.  Washington scored 248 goals this year, versus 206 by the Devils that year.  This equates to over a half goal more per game.  And this is thanks to basically two more shots for per game, which may not seem like much on the surface, but over 82 games equates to an extra 164 shots on net over the course of the season.  That is a significant number.

Thanks to War on Ice, I can find possession stats for 2006-2007, so we can also compare possession numbers for both teams to see if they further promote Washington as the better team.  Possession stats are at 5 on 5 play only.

Team

CF%

CP60

PDO

Devils

50.5

104.4

99.6

Capitals

51.0

110.0

101.2

The first number is simply the team's Corsi For percentage over the course of the regular season.  Both were over 50% which notes positive possession teams, and both basically had to be in order to get over 100 points by the end of the season.  Washington was slightly better at 51% instead of NJ's 50.5, but neither were really near the top of the possession chart for their years.  Washington was ranked 14th this season, and the Devils were ranked 10th that year.

The CP60 stat counts the total number of Corsi events, both positive and negative, for a team over the course of 60 minutes.  It is an average number of Corsi events in a 60 minute game for a team in that given season, both Corsi events for and against.  The higher this number is, the more offensive a team is and the less defensive it is, as the team is most likely firing away shots and giving up shots more often, instead of a defensive team that is preventing shot attempts at the cost of getting more shot attempts themselves.  Here again, it proves that Washington this year was a more offensive team than the 06-07 Devils were.  An extra 5 and a half Corsi events per game add up over the course of a year, and show that Washington did not quite play the defensive style that the Devils did.  Their extra Corsi events, however, clearly led to lots more goals, which gave Holtby a much bigger cushion in a lot of games that Brodeur never had.

Finally, I included PDO just for the heck of it, and it shows that Washington this year had more luck than the Devils did back then.  But since both ended up winning their respective divisions, it is not the most important stat.

Conclusion

In the end, it is clear that both goaltenders had excellent seasons for their teams.  Both Brodeur and Holtby should be lauded for their accomplishments, and their teams should have thanked them often for being the quality goaltenders that they are/were.  In terms of who had the better year, that is up for you to decide.  What I tried to show you with the numbers is that on the surface, Holtby had the better season than Brodeur did simply because he played in 12 fewer games and still managed to have the same number of wins. That is very impressive.

However, I also showcase the team stats to show that Marty also played beautifully, and did so on what was arguably a worse team that this year's Caps.  The Devils of 06-07 played as well defensively as these Caps do, but their offense was much weaker.  This meant that a lot less goals were scored to give Marty cushions during games.  Brodeur had to play in much more stressful games and play much more stressful minutes than Holtby had to, and that is regardless of the number of games played.  The fact that Brodeur actually played in 78 games that year despite not getting major cushions in the scoring, and he still got 48 wins, that is very remarkable.  And the major accomplishment for Brodeur over Holtby has to be those 12 shutouts he had, versus the 3 that Braden had this year.  That is a huge difference.  Brodeur knew that he had to be near perfect on a nightly basis for the team to do well, and he actually was perfect on 12 separate nights.

Overall, I think you have to tip the cap to Holtby for winning so many games in so few games started, but looking at these stats again, man it was great to have Brodeur.

Your Thoughts

What are your thoughts on this topic?  Knowing the numbers, what goalie do you think had a better season?  Why do you come to the conclusion that you do?  What other stats can you bring to the table to add to the discussion?  Thinking back on some of Marty's great seasons, do you miss having him in net?  Please leave your comments below, and thanks for reading.