Throughout the offseason, I’ll recap the Devils 2009 – 2010 season, covering the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ve already covered the Devils overall season, their solid record against the Atlantic Division, and the team’s powerplay. In this post, I’ll take a look at Martin Brodeur, who had a strong bounce-back season after last season’s torn biceps injury.
Coming into the 2009 – 2010 season, the Devils, for the first time in what seems like forever, had a question mark in goal. Brodeur, the career leader in wins, missed four months with a torn biceps injury. Despite his absence, the Devils still soared, reaching 51 wins last year. Everyone realized Brodeur would come back an excellent NHL goalie. But the injury did raise a slight red flag, and the smallest question mark loomed over Brodeur.
Whatever questions critics or fans had, Brodeur answered this past season. Brodeur started 77 games this season, going 45-25-6 with nine shutouts. The 77 games started were the first time in two years Brodeur started that many games. The 45 wins and nine shutouts were tops among NHL goaltenders. On April 19, the NHL named Brodeur a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, along with Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes. Brodeur clearly came back strong after the first major injury of his career.
Brodeur, in what seems to be normal the past few years, set several career milestones this season. On November 27, 2009, Brodeur broke the record for career minutes played by a goaltender, breaking Patrick Roy’s record of 60,275 during the second period of the team’s 2-1 shootout win. Ten days later, the Devils’ goalie tied Terry Sawchuk for first-place on the all-time shutout list with 103 in a 3-0 win over the Sabres. On December 19, Brodeur broke another Roy record, this for the most games played by a NHL goaltender. Then, on December 21, 2009, in one of the sweetest moments of the season, Brodeur shut out the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-0, to break his tie with Sawchuk for the shutout record. Brodeur also reached the 600 win plateau with a 3-0 shutout win over the Atlanta Thrashers on April 6. Brodeur, as has been commonplace the past few seasons. continued to shatter records throughout the year.
Continue reading after the jump for my take on Brodeur’s playoff performance!
But as the Devils entered the playoffs, Brodeur faced questions about his lackluster postseason play. I even questioned it, wondering whether Brodeur needed rest to be sharper for the playoffs. But, once again, Brodeur would prove me wrong. This season’s postseason numbers aren’t impressive (1-4, .881 save %, 3.01 GAA), but I would blame his defense for failing to clear pucks and players from the front of the net. Overall, I’d say Brodeur was one of the only Devils to show up in their first-round loss. He constantly made big saves, keeping the team in Game Three. With an inferior goalie, the Devils would have been swept and beaten soundly. One of the only reasons they were competitive was the play of Brodeur. He did give up some weak goals, but he made some phenomenal saves, including the robbery of Simon Gagne.
Overall, Brodeur had a typical Brodeur season. He started almost every game, collected over forty wins, and posted solid statistics. He did face adversity, even admitting he struggled in the Olympics and the post-Olympics to find his rhythm. Yet, in the end, Brodeur came back strong, helping the Devils to win their ninth straight Atlantic Division title.
Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Jim McIssaac/Getty Images