I know a lot of people talk about the team playing better in front of Hedberg, and that might be true, but clearly Johan Hedberg has been the more reliable goalie since joining the Devils. This leads us to a lot of questions. Is Marty Brodeur finished as a quality NHL goalie? Has he really fallen this far and this hard from two seasons ago? Is it time to give Johan Hedberg the ball as starting goalie for this team? Should the Devils continue to split time as they currently are?
What I might be saying is obviously partially bias since maybe it is hard for me to come to grips with the fact that Marty Brodeur is this bad even at this stage of his career, but I am no means a Brodeur nuthugger, and I have taken some very unpopular sides on Brodeur debates on this board and outside over the years. I just don’t think it makes sense for the Devils and PDB to continue with the status quo when it comes to the goaltending tandem.
Brodeur said something that I found interesting after last game when asked about getting into or finding a rhythm in nets. “I want to get going, play more games”….and then very quietly looked to the camera and smiled and said “hopefully that’s going to happen.” As simple as that quote was, it got me thinking. Brodeur is used to playing 70-75 games a season his entire career, playing as much as 77 two seasons ago. Maybe this split time or 60-40% thing will never work for him; it’s just something he can’t get used to. I think we can all agree that Brodeur’s current abilities can’t be as bad as the numbers are showing. Although it was a Lemaire coached team, in 2009-2010, he played 77 games and sported a 2.16 GAA with a .916 save percentage with 9 shutouts. Even last year when he came back from injury at the end of February, he started pretty much every game and was very solid. I just don’t believe his level of play has dropped off this dramatically.
Perhaps the transition from going months on end without sitting for your entire career to sharing the load isn’t as easy as we might think it can be. And I am not sure if it will ever work for Marty. For Johan on the other hand, this is what he’s used to his entire career. He’s played more than 41 games just twice in his career. That’s an entire career of working to stay focused for spot duty. Talk to any backup, and this is something that they probably work on for years.
My solution is to give Marty the ball and see what we have left. It could be ugly. It could be something I wish I never saw from a goalie that I believed, and I imagine many of you, was immortal. But what I think I know is that it couldn’t be worse than what we are seeing right now. Maybe he just needs to get back in his usual groove and find that rhythm. I just don’t believe Brodeur can be a successful 40-50 game goalie. When I say give him the ball, I don’t mean 20 straight games, but give him 15 of the next 20. Let him play some back-to-back games in the second half of the season, maybe even one 3 in 4 night stretch. We know he can handle this. He’s only been doing it forever.
All these years the greatest concern of fans were that coaches would run Marty into the ground, but I think keeping him very fresh might be worse for his game. If he’s terrible, it’ll be clear for him to see, and I bet he’d retire once the season ends. But right now he believes he has a lot left and he needs to get back into his usual routine of playing all the time. Maybe that’s what’s holding him back and not just age. What I do know is that it’s important for the team, for us, and for him to find out. I know a lot of great athletes hang on to long for many reasons, one of them being that they can’t come to terms that they are a shell of their former selves, and still believe they can be great when it is painfully obvious that they aren’t. Well, Brodeur still believes he can be great. Shouldn’t the team let him find out on his terms?
Edited by devilsrule33, 25 December 2011 - 11:32 PM.