Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Devils Awaken

I think Jamie Fitzpatrick has a very good interpretation of the current NHL season. In a parity filled league, every team has a shot at winning the Stanley Cup, but they are also all on the verge of missing the playoffs. It merely takes a hot or cold spell to determine which group a team is currently in. Those teams that looked like world beaters last week cool off and look to be in serious trouble this week and those teams that looked like they were in serious trouble last week may get hot and look like the top teams in the NHL this week.

The latest team to look like a world beater is the New Jersey Devils. The Devils are currently in the midst of a nine game winning streak and sit in second place in the East Conference with a 16-12 record (with two losses counted as regulation ties). This streak has happened largely because Martin Brodeur's game has gotten on track. After a slow start, Brodeur has looked very good recently. Over his last ten games he has a .943 saves percentage. As Brodeur goes, so goes New Jersey.

James Mirtle has another theory for the Devils recent success. He sees it as corresponding with the return of Jamie Langenbrunner from a hernia surgery. While Langenbrunner has been valuable with 12 points in his 11 games played so far, his contribution is less important than that of Martin Brodeur.

A hot goalie is what it takes to make a team have a hot streak. Martin Brodeur is a very hot goalie and New Jersey is a very hot team. How long this lasts is anyone's guess. In the parity filled NHL, it is just a matter of time before another team becomes the hottest team in the NHL and looks like the new world beater.

With Langenbrunner, and Colin White, back in the lineup, this has looked like a different team.

Anyone who can take minutes away from Vishnevski, Mottau, Oduya, etc., on the blueline is certainly going to help Brodeur in goal.
There certainly is truth to the argument that a better defence in front of Brodeur has led to lesser shot quality and that has helped him look better, but I think the biggest part of the credit falls on Brodeur. For whatever reason, he was slow to get started this season (and to a certain degree last season as well), but now thjat he is going he is playing as well as any goalie in the league.
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