There’s no doubt in my mind that Martin Brodeur is the greatest NHL goalie of all time. His numbers are impeccable, and he’s brought home more hardware then James Cameron’s Avatar.
However, put under pressure in last night's game versus the United States in which Canada lost 5-3, Brodeur failed to get the job done, and its not the first time.
The 37-year-old, who’s won three Stanley Cups with the New Jersey Devils (most recently in 2003), has only led his team past the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs once since the lockout.
Last season with the Devils leading a first round playoff series with the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2, I watched Brodeur allow four goals in back to back games and my jaw dropped as my playoff pool goaltender allowed two goals in the final minute and a half of game seven to lead his favored team to an early trip to the golf course rather then the Eastern Conference semi finals.
Just one season before their disappointing loss to the Canes, the Devils with Brodeur between the pipes fell to the fifth seeded New York Rangers in just five games, which meant another first round departure for the Devils. Brodeur wasn’t a huge help, allowing four goals in both games four and five.
Now before you exit your browser screen because you think I’m trying to bash the game's greatest goaltender, hear me out because in no way am I trying to say that the Devils playoff misfortunes over the past few seasons have been solely Marty’s fault. Nor was the lost last night. What I’am trying to say is that over the past few seasons, when put under pressure Brodeur has fallen flat on his mask.
Last night's four goals on 22 shots against the United States was just another example. Not to mention that Marty seemed to be more curious if he could swing the puck out of the park on the United States' second goal rather then trying to keep it out of the net.
But now shifting strides as to why Canada lost last night because it was more then Brodeur’s poor batting average.
Simply put, United States goaltender Ryan Miller was outstanding. Making 42 saves on 45 shots Miller proved once again why he is a shoo-in for the Vezina Trophy despite having been questioned a little after losing five of his last six starts prior to the Olympic break.
Miller’s goaltending and what Catroina Lemay Doan would call gutsy play from the young United States team, who only have three players on their roster above 30 years old, are probably the only reasons why they won considering they were doubled in shots by Canada and played against the home crowd.
For Canadian fans, the loss must be frustrating and a sixth place preliminary finish may leave you feeling more then unpleasant, but there are positives to be drawn from the sour loss on Sunday.
The 1-1-1-0 finish means the Canadians will have to play Germany on Tuesday and win in order to qualify for the quarterfinals.
You have to think head coach Mike Babcock will go with Roberto Luongo in goal the rest of the way and the game against Germany will allow Roberto to shake out any tweaks in his game before entering the elimination round if Canada advances.
The Germany game will also give Canada another game to attempt to gel as a team and hopefully give Babcock and the rest of the coaching staff a chance to figure out who to play with Sidney Crosby and Rick Nash.
A Canadian win on Tuesday would mean the ever-anticipated Crosby/Ovechkin rivalry would be reignited a bit earlier then expected as the Russians would face Canada in the quarter finals on Wednesday, the winner getting a spot in the semis.
Although the game would not have a gold medal presentation at its conclusion, it would have the two most dominant hockey powers and arguably the biggest hockey rivalry of all time (Russia vs. Canada).
But I guess we should worry about the Germany game first because for all we know, there could be another Tommy Salo on the horizon.
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