Martin Brodeur's Blunder: Will Age and Fatigue Factor for NHL Goalies in the Playoffs?

Eric MacLachlanCorrespondent IApril 11, 2008

Martin Brodeur's gaffe in game one of the Devils' series against the Rangers may have made him the goat in New Jersey for now. It is an uncharacteristic mistake by one of the best to ever play in the NHL.

Of course, everyone makes mistakes once in a while. But is this just one bad mistake by a legend, or is it Brodeur showing he may actually be human?

Is he a little less focused based on the fact that he's played 77 games, or is he just getting old?

While six goaltenders played 70 games this year, only two have really showed signs of fatigue.

Brodeur was amazing at points, but also had one of his most up and down seasons in recent memory. He was much better in the second half leading up to the playoffs, but still had some games where he was lit up.

While Brodeur is used to the workload, he isn't getting any younger. I don't think Brodeur will suffer, and he could in fact do what he has done best and steal a round or two for a New Jersey team not picked by many to go deep.

Dominik Hasek is another playoff question mark at 43 years old. He has a history of injuries since returning to the NHL, most notably with Ottawa during their playoff run a couple years ago.

Hasek is, simply, an aging goaltender on a team that, despite finishing first in the West, few people are giving much of a shot to win the Cup.

To me, Hasek is the biggest question mark among the top teams, and Detroit will not do anything unless he plays very well. I don't see him being good enough to steal a series after the first round. 

A third potential question mark is Roberto Luongo. He has played 75, 76, and 73 games in each of the past three seasons, respectively. Luongo is only 29, but this year he struggled immensely down the stretch.

While family distractions definitely played a part, he also just looked tired at times. He was slow, overplayed many shots, and let in some very weak goals. It looked like he was suffering from more than just the personal troubles; he looked worn out. 

Evgeni Nabokov, Ryan Miller, Mikka Kiprusoff, and Henrik Lundqvist also played over 70 games this season.

Kiprusoff was constantly criticized, although that could be attributed more to Mike Keenan than Mikka. Although he struggled in games, he was not as bad as Keenan wanted people to think.

The Sabres are not in the playoffs, but this is no fault of Miller's, who will be in a tight battle for Team USA's starting, most likely against Rick DiPietro. In my mind, Miller should be the starter.

Nabokov and Lundqvist could both garner Vezina consideration of their own.

I think that these teams would be smart to keep a legitimate number two man, and try to limit their top 'tenders to around 70 games.

I know you want the best to play as often as possible, but when Luongo plays the way he did the last month of the year, does it seem as though this method really helps your team?