Brodeur

 

It took just 30 ticks for Martin Brodeur to mishandle a puck behind his net and 11 more for him to needlessly go paddle-down on a routine Brian Rafalski slap shot. A tiny redirection sent the puck just over Brodeur’s blocker and like a sudden slap in the face, Team USA struck first for an early 1-0 lead in both team’s final preliminary game.

 

From the moment the game started, it was painfully obvious that Brodeur was over-handling the puck in an effort to get into some kind of rhythm. Four of his first seven touches were either unsuccessful or turned over, including when he swatted a puck out of mid-air with his stick 10:45 into the first period. Unfortunately Brodeur shanked it and a shot was quickly fired back on goal with enough velocity to slide under his desperate and futile two-pad stack.

 

Combined with those moments were a few more that revealed Brodeur’s shocking uneasiness in the game. It was a furious pace and for some reason he was clearly one step behind. Brodeur did gain some confidence back in the second frame, but unfocused energy would result in another costly goal against when he stretched out to shove David Backes. A few seconds later, Brodeur was on his stomach trying to knock away a loose puck. But he missed completely and then failed to cover it up before it finally landed on Chris Drury’s stick and then the back of the net.

 

The rest, as they say, is history. Or as thousands of USA fans have been calling it: A Millercle. As for me, I’ll just say right now that, in my humble opinion, and as a goalie scout and a coach, Team Canada may have made a terrible mistake with their goaltending plan.

 

Roberto Luongo played the first preliminary game and despite the reasons why I expected it to be Brodeur (See last week’s School of Block), Canada made a good choice. Luongo was extremely sharp and poised when called upon, stopping all 15 shots he faced for the shutout. He played with confidence in front of his home crowd and ignited his slightly rusty team with some big saves early in the first period.

 

Despite Luongo's shutout, it was Brodeur who was given the start in Game 2 against Switzerland. Although it was an iffy performance for Brodeur and a massive scare for Canada, he redeemed himself in the shootout. When he was announced as the starter against Team USA, a message was sent that he had the opportunity to take control of the crease all the way through to the Gold Medal game. It was pretty much Brodeur’s job, and his glory, to lose.

 

So I ask this next question rhetorically, and also with a severe level of seriousness. How could Team Canada have possibly expected Brodeur to play at his best in only his SECOND start?? Every other player prepared for their third game, but Brodeur was a clear step behind. And I don't think the fact it was just his second game was a coincidence.

 

Just look at all the NHL goalies in the Olympics that played all three preliminary games. How did they perform in that final game? For the most part (except Hiller), it was pretty admirably. But look at the NHL goalies that played just two games. Thomas Greiss was sharp in his first game, but terrible against Belarus on Saturday night. Then you have Miikka Kiprusoff’s minutes being disturbed by a Backstrom shutout and the ensuing result was not positive.

 

Brodeur is a different breed, we all know that. He wants to play 82 games every year because he relies on a certain rhythm to be effective. How Team Canada thought it would be a good thing to take away from Brodeur's rhythm by giving him LESS minutes than possible is absolutely shocking. Either give Luongo all three games or give them all to Brodeur - but don't hinder both by splitting up minutes. It's just not fair to either one.

 

This may seem unrelated to what caused Brodeur to struggle in this single game, but you can't walk away from it without recognizing the terrible decisions he made with the puck early in the game. He was not ready for the game’s speed and pace and his feet were rarely set on shots that included any lateral movement. His rebound control was not sharp and simply put, he struggled to execute and even turned pucks over to help fuel Team USA’s fire.

 

So how you feel about Luongo getting the first start and its impact on Brodeur's subsequent play is up to you, but I’m pretty sure it played a role in the momentum and opportunities it gave Team USA. There was a decided edge in shots for Canada, but a decided edge in goal for Team USA. And I’m sure you know which one ultimately leads to an upset.

 

Not lost in the game, of course, was Ryan Miller's 42 sensational, heroic saves. It was a performance that goes down as one of the most clutch in Team USA's history. His glove hand was extremely strong and he did a great job of absorbing shots, scrambling with energy and controlling his emotions despite a few turnovers bad turnovers of his own. It included a strong display of sheer will in the final five minutes of the game, as some of his most impressive and important saves even came after Ryan Kesler scored the empty-net goal.

 

When the game was over and Brodeur shamefully skated up to the handshake line, he looked to me like a Wild West killer walking slowly to the Gallows. He was surrounded by people who only wanted him dead, all of them shouting for his head, just waiting for that thick, twisted rope to be placed around his neck.

 

As Brodeur approached Miller, It was like he was forced to face the judge that sentenced him. And when they both exchanged the memorable handshake, I think I saw it in Miller's eyes, the look, "Team Canada…you're mine."

 

So as the playoff round begins, it’s Miller that has all of the confidence in the world as Team USA awaits their next opponent. He's played all three games and was extremely focused in all of them. His ability to make timely saves has been at the forefront of his play and the visual eye attachment has been exceptional as well. Beating him in the playoffs is now considered a monumental task whether it happens to be Russia, Finland, or dare I say it, Canada.

 

Ultimately, the victory for Team USA will have many themes, many angles and many sub-plots for everyone to reflect upon. But for me, I'll always remember Brodeur's demeanor and reaction when the game ended. I have to think that being on that ice as the loser, in his home country, was just like walking to the gallows, walking to his untimely death.

 

Like a thirsty, dizzy horse trudging through the desert, I’m starting to sense that Brodeur's is slowly drying up. The long arm of time is close to touching his shoulder. I’m sure he can continue to play, but how long until his style is no longer effective? It remains to be seen if he will have a chance to fight back in this tournament, but after this loss to Team USA, I’d have to think it will most likely be Luongo's team from here on out. And how Brodeur reacts once the NHL resumes play will only be determined by his ability to shake off a horrific loss and re-focus on the Stanley Cup.

 

A few days ago, a shootout hero. Today, a victim of a fierce attack. Such is the life of an NHL goaltender.

 

OLYMPIC SCOUTING REPORTS – Check out my Olympic Goaltending Notebook, which includes a Beast Tracker, scouting reports and live chats! I’ve done more than eight preliminary game reports and you can also check out the Live Chat Replay from the USA/CAN game for a live scouting report I did for both goalies.

 

 

 

 


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blammo said:

blammo
nope Justin - I liked your article. As usual it was well written and thought-provoking. But I couldnt disagree more with you on the team canada rotation.

I will answer one of your questions. WHY DIDNT THEY GIVE HIM ALL THREE PRELIMINARY GAMES???? I think the answer is simple. If they had gone with either Luongo or Brodeur for all 3 prelim games, and wound up not winning the group due to poor/average at best goaltending (whcih, considering the way both goalies were playing coming into the Olympics was a very real possibility), they would have had to choose between starting a cold goalie for the first game in the elimination rounds or sticking with the guy who didnt get it done in the prelims, not an enviable position to be in.

As I said below, I think the rotation they went with was the right one as it makes their decision on a game by game basis much easier. I look at it like a decision tree with an opening assumption that it is Brodeurs job to lose.

Game one: Start Luongo.
Game two: Start Brodeur. Did he play terribly/lose?
Yes: Start Luongo against US
No: Stick with Brodeur against US

Game three (Luongo): Did he play terribly?
Yes: Brodeur from here on out.
No: Luongo from here on out.

Game three (Brodeur): Did he play terribly?
Yes: Luongo from here on out.
No: Stick with Brodeur.

I think the coaches really WANTED Brodeur to be the guy which is why they gave him the back to back games. I think they figured, even if we lose to the US and Marty plays well, we'll stick with him and he'll be playing his 3rd game in 6 nights against a weak opponent and 4th game in 7 nights against a strong one. Plenty of time for him to get into a good rythym. Except Marty threw a wrench into those plans with a stinker.

I think youre right in stating rythym was a factor for Marty heading into the olympics, but I dont think it was the factor that caused him to play poorly. I think he overplayed the puck because somewhere in the back of his mind he knows there is no trapezoid. I saw (or read, I cant remember) an interview with him a couple days before the olympics started and he said he was really looking forward to being able to play more pucks. Problem with that is he hasnt been able to do so for 4 years so he's a bit rusty, he's going out of his way to play those pucks, and last night it cost Canada a couple goals and (arguably) the game.
February 23, 2010
Votes: +0

Larry said:

Rollie1967
Brodeur /Luongo That was a shocking performance from Marty, a totally different style! he was flopping around like Hasek or Palmateer(unfortunately with Palmateer's results)taking big risks he didnt need to. Both Marty and Lou are best when they play alot- and see alot of shots- that wasnt going to be the case with their first 2 opponents, so its debatable whether giving Lou the 1 game cost them much.

I never liked the inclusion of Niedermayer on this team- He hasnt played well all year, and was far from his best the year before. I was impressed with Keith and Seabrook, they both looked awesome. Doughty hasnt been too bad either. Hopefully Luongo gets enough action to get into a rythm and we can put that awful performance out of our minds as we go for gold!!! smilies/grin.gif
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

derek said:

buck0198
... P.S. Canada Russia wont be a medal game....they will play eachother in the Qtrs...if Canada can get by Butenschon and Greiss...haha
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

derek said:

buck0198
Brodeur Fleury doesnt lose that game...either does Luongo...

I am an American and I think we will have our day soon. I think the US hockey program will rival Canada's in about 5-10 years. I think the Canadians tried to make too many ppl happy by playing Brodeur amongst others.

Pronger and Niedermeyer are road cones...Green got snubbed and I was all about Green getting snubbed until I seen Pronger and Nieds look slower then dirt. Leadership? thats why u kept them two...but u took Doughty? I understand giving Doughty reps for the future but Green deserves them too(even though he is a bit of a liability in his own zone).

Luongo is younger and just a better goalie then Brodeur at this time...Brodeur is getting worn down and I see the Devils flunkin out in the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs this year as well. He never gets a spell in NJ and he is worn out and age is catching up to him.

I am not saying Canada wont come back in this tournament but it wont be behind team oldhead.

P.S. Canada and Russia are not owed anything...teams are no longer bowing down to them like they used to. Here is to at best a Canada vs. Russia bronze medal game.

USA USA USA!
February 22, 2010
Votes: -1

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Allow me to explain in a little more detail. Please do not take this personally, it is a reflection for everyone to read and hopefully understand smilies/smiley.gif

Rhythm is ABSOLUTELY a factor for Brodeur heading into the tournament. First of all, he was not in a good rhythm to begin with. He had like 1 win in his last 5 NHL games before the break and was struggling with focus and rebound control.

The Olympics are a totally different game, against totally different teams from different countries. It's not just the physical act of being in a rhythm from a technique perspective that matters, but a mental rhythm of being ready to go, being loose and being prepared to make good decisions with the puck in the first five minutes of a game.

Brodeur thrives on playing every single game and every minute he possibly can. Everyone knows that. So 6 days off for him mine as well be three months!!! If management knew all along Brodeur was their horse, then they have to use him accordingly and play HIM EVERY SINGLE GAME. Not playing against Norway (which would have been a perfect way to get him into the Olympic groove) and then having to show up against Switzerland almost didn't pan out. And obviously it clearly didn't against Team USA.

There's NO way that playing a worthless NHL game 5-6 days prior to a MASSIVE Olympics game is anything close to being similar to each other. It's not easy to be ready for a team you haven't played in four years, no matter who you are. It takes an extreme amount of focus and preparation.

"Luongo deserved a start..."

Okay. He got it. He won it. He was perfect. Doesn't that mean he deserves the next one???? Regardless of who deserves what, Canada should go with the goalie who is "hot" and not even think twice about it. Both Luongo and Brodeur are capable of winning a medal. Whichever one is playing better in that first game should keep playing. You don't negatively reinforce a shutout against a goalie who has been waiting for this opportunity...especially in his home city!!

By the same token, we can all say that Brodeur deserves the chance.

Okay, he definitely does deserve it since he's the veteran, the one and only Brodeur. If that's the case, why doesn't Canada GIVE HIM ALL THREE PRELIMINARY GAMES?? Who cares if Luongo is deserving of a start??? It's not about making players feel happy, it's about winning games. SPLITTING THE MINUTES ONLY MESSES WITH SHIT. It was a BAD DECISION.

I talk about these same exact dynamics all season long in the NHL. There are times to start a goalie and times to bench them. You don't start Luongo just because "he deserves it..." with the intention of making Brodeur "the guy" later and then bench Luongo after he gets the shutout. You don't bench Brodeur the first game just because "he needs a day off" and because "Luongo deserves the start" or whatever.

I'm annoyed because it's just a little ridiculous to me that on this massive important stage, Canada would make such an odd goaltending decision. If Brodeur was slated to be the guy for Canada then he should have played all three games, it's as simple as that.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

Darren said:

Panger
... I really do not agree with the rhythem factor of Broduer having to play 3 games. He had just played a game what 6 days ago? Sometimes in a slow weak that is time before a next game. Luo deserved to get 1 game. Management knew Marty was their horse and wanted to give him one and then have Marty hopefully play the next 5. That's more than enough to get in a rhythem. Sopping 15 shots 2 days earlier wouldn't of made a difference, at least IMO.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... Thanks everyone for the comments. I'll just add a few things real quick!!

1. I agree w/ KJAZZ that it's not ALL Brodeur's fault. I know this article comes off like that, but I cover goaltending only and I chose to cover Brodeur's performance in the game. To be honest, I wasn't that surprised with Miller's performanc...he has been strong enough all year to win a game like this in the Olympics. I was impressed with his game, but not surprised. On the other hand, I was BEYOND surprised at Brodeur's performance. But of course he is not the only one to blame for the loss.

2. Very good point by Dean about Brodeur heading into the Olympics. I know last week with my Olympic preview I posted his stats and he had allowed more goals than almost every other Olympic goalie in the previous 5 games before the Olympics. I think you can take it a step further and look at Brodeur's entire season and realize it's one step below what we are used to seeing from him. He just hasn't been the same this year.

3. Goalies playing all 3 games of the prelims vs. goalies that only played 2. Yes, there are some goalies that played only two games and still did well, but that's even more proof that Brodeur just didn't show up for last night's game.

I know that my writing style and diction can come off very explicit or harsh when I actually have some negative or slightly controversial topic to explain. That being said, Brodeur is still one of the best in the history of the game.

But for his most recent outing, considering he is such a rock and is such a dependable goaltender, he was flat out terrible when it mattered most - early in the game.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

kjazz said:

kjazz
In (partial) defense of Brodeur I think it's too easy (and unfair) to blame Brodeur for the loss, probably because he's the standing opposite of Miller who had an amazing game. I'm not saying Brodeur had a good game, I just don't think it's as bad as people are claiming. Sure, he fumbled(/batted) the puck on one (which was still a nice shot), but two of the other goals were deflections (one by his own D-man), and the one goal where he was WAY out of position he was knocked off-balance by the opposing player, and was scrambling to react afterwards. His pokecheck attempt I think was a decent idea, he just missed and some unlucky bounces got the puck to the US player. And he did make some amazing saves throughout the game after he shook off the initial couple minutes.

I'm more disappointed in the penalties the Canadians took in the end of 2nd/3rd, as well as Perry's half-assed play that allowed Parise to score the empty net goal. At the beginning of the 3rd, they were down 3-2 but still had a great chance of coming back and winning.

That all said, I'm not against starting Luongo next game, I just think Brodeur is being unfairly singled out in the game.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

Dean Herback said:

hockeyherb
... Anyone who is a Brodeur fantasy owner (like me) was likely overly aware that he came into the Olympics very cold. 2 wins in his last 6 games, bad GAA and SV%. For this reason I was hoping they'd go with Luongo full time.

Even if Brodeur has the better body of work versus Luongo, think 4 more years down the road and it's likely Brodeur will not even make the team. I'd rather get Luongo more reps now for the future (maybe even Fleury??) with a very minimal drop in goalie skill if at all.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

InForAPenny said:

InForAPenny
... Agreed, good article. It was well said and thought out. Just reflecting that Ludqvist played well.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

Jason said:

wpggrown
Justin Goldman I think it goes without saying .. but wow you know your stuff.. Really great article!
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

Justin Goldman said:

GoalieGuild
... A few did play well in two games, a few didn't. Consider it the difference between advancing to the Semifinals and being forced to play a qualifier. Brodeur was terrible in the game last night and was the main reason why Team USA had so much momentum. No goalie scout that watched that game will ever have anything good to say about Brodeur's performance ... it was the complete opposite of what was expected of him. Can't be much more straightforward than that. I think I did a good job of reflecting that in the article.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

InForAPenny said:

InForAPenny
And Lunqvist Gustavson had the middle game for the Swedes. Lundqvist was fine against Finland.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

doulos said:

doulos
What about Nabokov? Bryzgalov played a game in between and Nabokov looked alright for the Russians.
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

blammo said:

blammo
rotation I posted this already in the comments on the daily ramble - I have to say that I like what Babcock did with the goalie rotation. If I had to guess (and I will) how the behind the scenes discussion went - I imagine it went something like this:

"We split the first two games. Give Marty the tougher opponent in the Swiss. Unless he really blows it, we give him the USA game which gives him back to back games and hopefully allows him to get into a rythym. If he plays well in that game, win or lose, we stick with him for all remaining games. If he falters (and we dont win the group), we go with Luongo in what should be a relatively weak opponent to get thru to the QF, so he wont be 'rusty' for whoever the opponent is."

I think it is fair for Team Canada to expect him to be at his best, first because he is an elite talent and second because he did it in Salt Lake after not starting the first game.

It should now be Luongo's tournament. He will be fired up and playing in his home town. I think he shuts out Germany and plays one of the best games of his life against Russia. My $0.02 anyhow...
February 22, 2010
Votes: +0

DonCoburleone said:

DonCoburleone
MA Fleury! And for the controversy aspect of it, why not go with M.A. Fleury instead of Luongo? Fleury has won on a bigger stage than Luongo ever has (whats the best he's ever done, a western conference final game?) I say give it to the kid who went to the last 2 Stanley Cups and defeated the mighty Red Wings less than a year ago...
February 22, 2010 | url
Votes: -1

DonCoburleone said:

DonCoburleone
Thank You Dobber! Finally somebody criticizes Brodeur's play in last nights game! I watched that NBC broadcast from start to finish then the 2 hours of postgame plus the Finland/Sweden intermission reports and then another hour post-game AND NOT ONCE DID ANYONE SAY BRODEUR HAD A BAD GAME. The closest anyone game was Millbury right after it ended saying that "Brodeur didn't have his best game, but..." Even Roenick kissed the almighty Broduer's hiney and didn't criticize him at all. I mean, that 1st period goal he gave up right after he swatted the thing out of mid air was absolutely inexcusable (who the heII did he think he was on that one anyway, Jason Bay?) Throw that 3rd goal on top of it, where he inexcusably dove after a puck that was waaaaay out of his reach and with bodies all around him, and thats the 2 goal difference in the game right there. Bad game by Brodeur and if I were Babcock Brodeur would not get another game in this tournament.

February 22, 2010 | url
Votes: +0

DuklaNation said:

DuklaNation
... Look its getting tiresome to read about Miller and Brodeur. Clearly Brodeur played poorly. Obviously Miller played well. However, Iginla missed a wide open net. Miller had zero clue where the puck was late in the game. All the d-man had to do was hit the net for an easy goal. Of course, Niedermayer? missed the net. When you get outshot 45-23 with the talent on the ice, its more about luck than good goaltending.
February 22, 2010
Votes: -1
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