At this point I’m starting to wonder if Martin Brodeur will ever slow down or even begin to show his age. Last year during the playoffs I wrote an article about how despite at age 40 he’s still dominating the playoffs, now it seems like he’s carrying over his strong play from the postseason into the start of 2013. Brodeur along with the New Jersey Devils have gotten off to a 6-1-3 start which has them sitting in 4th place in the Eastern Conference, ahead of the arguably stronger New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. Not bad for a team that is relying on a 40 year-old starter and a 39 year-old backup in Johan Hedberg.
This is Brodeur’s 19th season as a starter with the Devils in the NHL and this year he’s poised for even more success and perhaps even a 4th Stanley Cup. The Devils goaltender is one of just 3 players (Teemu Selanne and Jaromir Jagr) to have experienced the last shortened season in 1995- and Martin Brodeur became a house hold name by backstopping the Devils to a Stanley Cup Championship. What does Brodeur have planned for his 2nd shortened NHL season?
While there are no guarantees on how far or how well the Devils will do or how long Brodeur will be able to keep playing like a 20 something year-old, there is no question this season will be special.
“When you get to a certain age you appreciate the game a little more because you know there’s not many left. You want to go out and try to perform, I want to make sure I’m ready when called upon” ~ Martin Brodeur
Through the first 10 games Brodeur has certainly been ready and looks no worse for age winning 5 of 8 games with a 2.44 Goals Against Average and a .904 Save Percentage not too bad for an old guy. At 40 Martin Brodeur is one of the most legendary goaltender to ever put on the pads, holding almost all goaltending records he is poised to hit another milestone on Saturday night when he plays in his 1200th NHL game! Perhaps the most interesting thing about the legendary goaltender is the fact that despite being a “role model” or hero to younger goalies, none of the younger goalies in the NHL have adapted his hybrid style.
With the shortened season, Brodeur not playing in another league during the layoff and him getting older each day, many- including myself- were writing off the oldest goalie in the league. With the rigorous schedule of playing almost every other day, I didn’t believe Brodeur would be up to the task but so far he looks just fine. He started off the year 3-0 while allowing only 3 goals and putting up a shutout while stacking the pads and rolling all over the ice stoning shooters.
Watching Brodeur early this season he has shown he is more than up to the task of another season in the NHL and the lockout may end up helping him in the long run. Of course having arguably the best backup goalie in Hedberg doesn’t hurt either. The best thing about him is that when he feels he is no longer honestly able to compete at the NHL level he will step aside, and he’s starting to do that by allowing Hedberg more and more starts. Between the stellar play of Brodeur who always shows up in the biggest games, when all the chips are down and the solid play of Hedberg when Brodeur needs a rest, the New Jersey Devils may have the best goalie tandem in the NHL.
Due to the lockout Brodeur is facing a 30 game season (at most) instead of a 50+, which should help him and the Devils come playoff time. Martin Brodeur is Martin Brodeur, there is no need to worry about his skill- he’ll get the job done.
With Brodeur out-performing many younger goalies and the Devils team clicking as a unit, Brodeur may be able to win his 4th Stanley Cup before riding off into the sunset! Only time will tell if Brodeur can keep up this pace all season long, but one thing’s for sure- when Martin Brodeur does hang up his pads he will be one of the all time great goaltenders to ever play.