Monday, December 22, 2008
What did that headline read? Did I just say that? Oh yes, yes I did. How could anyone say that about one of the all-time greats Marty Brodeur? Well granted that headline was a bit of an overstatement to get y'all to read on. But is he one of the top 5 greatest goaltenders of all time? I'm beginning to rethink that assessment with each big win Scott Clemmensen has in the Rock.
This 31 year old, drafted in the 8th round, 215th overall in 1997, has come of age, and skill, when Brodeur finally fell to injury for the 1st time in his illustrious 15 year career. Clemmensen is rocking a 11-3-1 record with a 2.30 GAA and .921 SV%, in 16 games. Weren't the Devils supposed to fall off the face of the earth once Brodeur got hurt, certainly they weren't supposed to get better.
Prior to this year, the most games Clemmensen ever played for the Devils was 13, he joined the team in 2001. He's only played 44 games in his whole career, (3 for the Leafs last year) and only 41 for the Devils. 6 seasons, 41 games, that includes the 16 starts this year.
The Devils always ride Brodeur, for years the Devils modus operandi (m.o. for the uneducated of the bunch, that's latin, asshole) has been to ride him all the way to the playoffs. Ride him hard. Since he took the reigns from Chris Terrerri (hahahahahaha) back in the mid-90's (after the other lockout) Brodeur has played no less than 67 games. 15 years of playing over 80% of your team's games is unheard of, no wonder no one ever heard of Scott Clemmensen.
But now we have a Devils team succeeding with a goalie other than Marty Brodeur. Same team, same system, same superb goaltending...or is it same superb goaltending stats? The Devils, particularly former coach Jacques Lemaire and CEO, President, GM, and sometimes but not current coach Lou Lamoriello , have been known for popularizing the bane of hockey: the neutral zone trap. I don't have to explain that system to any of you, we all know it, and we all know it was the cause of the clutch-and-grab play of the 90's, where coincidentally, Marty Brodeur put up his finest numbers. You can see where I'm going with this. Just look at Brodeur pre then post lockout, his GAA jumped .5.
Brodeur has played in a defensive system, with defensive-minded players, during a time where hooking and holding were common place. Currently they have former Selke winner, John Madden, and other defense-first forwards like Bobby Holik, Dainius Zubrus, and Jay Pandolfo littering the roster, with a defensive corps which does nothing flashy, but hardly a thing wrong. Let's go back through the ages, Scott Stevens, Ken Daneyko, Jason Arnott, Claude Lemieux, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rafalski, Brian Rolston, Dave Andreychuk, Lyle Odelein, Doug Gilmour, I can go on. Some of the most respected blueliners and defensive forwards over the past decade have all come from, or played for, New Jersey during Brodeur's run.
If Clemmensen continues to put up numbers equal to Brodeur's, then what can we make of this? Is Brodeur somehow not what he's been made out to be? I don't think so, I think he's a phenomenal talent who's benefited from a system, but it does beg to ask the question, is Marty Brodeur overrated?