The New Jersey Devils' goaltending position has been about as fluid as Bill O'Reilly's political leanings or an Arctic glacier over the past 20 years. It is seemingly permanent and set in stone.
Martin Brodeur has occupied that small area of blue paint between the goalposts in New Jersey since 1993. His teammate for much of this year, Stefan Matteau, wasn't even born yet when Marty became the franchise's primary 'tender. In the 20 years Brodeur has been New Jersey's mainstay, the rival Philadelphia Flyers have tried more than 20 different goalies. (Read that and other great tales of Marty in this New York Times Magazine article).
After a vintage playoff from Brodeur last season, we wondered if the last was seen of the great pad-stacking, stick-handling goalie relic. After four Vezinas and three Stanley Cups, what more did a 40-year-old have to prove?
Well, he has proved that he still enjoys the game and can play at a high level. Unfortunately, age is not just a number, and a bad back sidelined No. 30 for a full month of this shortened season. He is 2-0-1 since his return and was even credited with a goal. It's a snipe in the box score, folks!
While Brodeur was on injured reserve, another old-timer was keeping the crease warm. Not warm enough perhaps, as the 39-year-old Johan Hedberg struggled in Brodeur's absence, going 3-10-1.
With the all-time winningest goalie as your starter and a 39-year-old backup, the New Jersey Devils have a unique goaltender position with some predictable shortcomings. Let's analyze what other teams can learn from this. Most aspects will be regarding this year's situation. However, there is much to learn from Brodeur's incredible career.