Well since today is the day after Martin Brodeur stepped into goal tending immortality I am sure there will be a ton of articles about Marty’s greatness.
Since I am sure there plenty of love to go around for Brodeur, let’s talk about the greatest goal tender ever.
I know what you’re saying. There will be 500 articles that flood the national and local papers, as well as hockey and sports sites every where about number 30 passing 33. The hero worshipping that goes along with number 552 and beyond is well deserved by Brodeur.
He is quite surely the best Canadian goaltender ever. I say it without hyperbole, I say it without reservation.
So allow me to rain a little bit on the “best of all time” parade. Brodeur has done something amazing no doubt. He has changed the style of the game, bringing back the stand up goalie. Mixing in the butterfly style of his idol and dominating NHL shooters since he took over the starting job in 1993-1994 for the Devils.
Since that season Brodeur has gone on to post 100 career shut outs, he has 552 career wins, he also holds the record with seven 40-win seasons, and his durability has allowed him to start 70 plus games 11 times in the past 13 seasons.
So for me not proclaim Brodeur the best ever, I must be off my rocker right?
The other number all stack up 2.20 GAA (10th all time) and a .914 save percentage are fairly impressive to say the least.
So if not Martin, then who?
Lest we forget…The Dominator.
Both have won the Stanley Cup, both have hung Olympic Gold around their necks. One was a first round pick; the other was drafted in the tenth round with pick number 199.
It is true that we’ve seen probably the three best goalies to every strap on pads and lace up skates in the last 20 years. Does Brodeur have numbers that are hard to argue?
It would seem almost impossible to be sure. That being said, in his best statistical year Martin Brodeur (1996-1997) posted 37 wins in 67 games with career low 1.81 goals against, and a .927 save percentage.
In that same year in Buffalo, Dominik Hasek posted 37 wins in 67 games. His Goals Against was only 2.21 (that’s a career best for most), and I say only because we are talking about the best of the best. To get to that 2.21 GAA, he had to managed a save percentage of .930, a save percentage higher than any single season in Brodeur’s career.
That being said that .930 was only good enough to tie for 3rd all time in Hasek’s NHL career. He’s also post years of .937 and .932. He posted .930 or better five times.
It is my contention that had Hasek played with the talented defense core we saw in front of Brodeur his whole career we may see numbers that were mind boggling. In his best statistical year Hasek only won 30 of his 64 starts, but he posted a career best 1.87 goals against.
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right it’s 0.06 higher than the mark set by Brodeur in 1996–1997. To set get Buffaloto a record of 30–18–14, The Dominator had to post 9 shutouts and a save percentage of .937.
When we walk away from the career years, we see that both Brodeur and Hasek have identical career goals against averages of 2.20 with Hasek’s career save percentage being .922 vs. .914 for Brodeur.
Now compare the individual accolades.
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year)
3 Stanley Cups
10 Time an All Star
4 Vezina Trophy’s
4 Williams Jennings (best goals against average)
1 Olympic Gold Medal
2 Stanley Cups
5 Time All Star
6 Vezina Trophy’s
3 Williams Jennings
1 Olympic Gold Medal
2 Hart Trophy’s
2 Lester B. Pearson Awards
Are the RAW numbers weighted in Martin Brodeur’s favor? Sure they are, he’s played 152 more games than Hasek and has managed 163 more wins, and 19 more shut outs. The winnings percentage is staggering.
The accomplishments are outstanding. How about the fact that Brodeur has 30 more playoff wins than Hasek, despite having only 50 additional playoff starts?
But when it comes to April, May and possibly June both Hasek and Brodeur get better, Brodeur’s playoff goals against drops to 1.96 with a save percentage of .919 and 22 shutouts or one ever 7.68 starts.
At the same time of year Hasek has played in 119 contests, his goal against shrinks from 2.20 to 2.02 and his save percentage squeaks up to .925 and 14 shut outs or one for every 8.5 starts.
So I’d contend that shut outs are a bit of a fluke. Certainly a great goal tending effort, but to not allow a single goal takes a certain amount of luck. Goals against average are more of a team stat.
Save percentage is simply that, how many shots on goal you kicked away. For his career Hasek averaged 27.5 shots per game in the regular season and an identical 27.5 shots per game in the post season.
Although 2.5 shots per game doesn’t seem like much, if use their save percentages to determine number of goals allowed. (Using Brodeur’s shots against number.) It means that over the same 24 752 shots, Hasek would’ve given up 1930 goals vs. 2137 by Brodeur.
To make the comparison simpler, using save percentage Hasek’s goals against average would have been 1.98 or the best since 1937 and good enough for third in NHL history.
Brodeur on the other hand averages 25 shots per game during the regular season and it holds steady at 25.2 for the run to the cup.
The stats and averages are razor thin in their difference.
So all the Brodeur fans and supporters will go to the records, and point to the win record and soon to be shut out record as the measures of greatness.
I would contend that at the Nagano Olympics he single handedly sent hockey’s version of the Dream Team home while carrying the Czech’s to a gold medal.
He didn’t get his first NHL start until he was 25, and didn’t get his first starting job in the NHL until he was 28. Yet still he ranks first for starts by a European Goalie, 6th all time in shut outs, 10 in all time wins, 8th in all time lowest GAA.
Two Harts, with Five Nominations, that’s like a pitcher winning the MVP and the CY Young. It simply doesn’t happen, but he was simply that good. Six Vezina Trophy’s for best goalie, and was named Czech Hockey player on the 20th Century.
Marty, congratulations on the win record.
May the claims of Blasphemy rain down for the sky. But lest we forget The Reign of the Dominator!
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