Maybe Marty was that good.
Over the last fifteen years or so, I have heard various complaints from Ranger fans about all the accolades thrown at Marty Brodeur. Many have suggested that Marty was only getting the great stats because of the team in front of him. His accomplishments were not because he was that good but because the system in place provided him an easy way to collect shut outs and all the other outstanding numbers.
I disagreed then, and I disagree now.
Allow me to make my case.
If you look at the last few years, the Devs have had little if any playoff luck. Marty has not shut the door or stolen games. In fairness, I think it's clear that Marty is no longer as good as he was. His skills are eroding with age. No longer can the Devils lean on him in every tight spot. Without being able to outscore the Flyers, the Devs are now out of the playoffs with the elimination game ending in a 3-0 shut out for Boucher. Are you kidding me? Did you see that game? Are you telling me that Boucher is that much better than Brodeur? Hogwash!
In Washington, the goaltending is so weak that Ovie & Co. are forced to simply outscore the opponent. The Devs are not that offensively talented. In fact, even with the addition of Kovy....they kinda stink. You can't tell me that Boucher is a Cup contender. Boucher is in the second round not because he's good but because the Devs couldn't expose him for the weak keeper he is. Trust me, I shed no tears watching the Devils fail to shoot, fail to play with urgency.
Lemme guess, you're going to tell me that the Devs no longer have Stevens and the like and that's why Marty is being exposed himself. Bullshit. No one can maintain that high level of play forever. He's old now after years of intense play and it's taken it's toll. It always does. Father time is not a fan of Marty or anyone else for that matter. May I remind you of Messiers' last few seasons? Sorry, that was ugly and uncalled for. True......but ugly.
I suggest that Marty was always that good. His numbers and records are his because he earned them. I can see in my mind the saves he made as a rookie back in '94. He forced a seven game series with the Rangers and it took that famous Matteau goal to get the Rangers into the finals. He won the cup the following year. Accident? Yeah, right.
Perhaps jealous Ranger fans feel better somehow by downplaying Marty's puck stopping abilities. I think it shows hockey ignorance. Sure, the Devs have employed a tough defensive system for years and as any good team should, they don't allow many shots from the slot. They limit total shots on goal with the best of 'em. But when it's on the line, Marty made the big save. In fact, I suggest that without Marty in-between the pipes, the Devs would NOT have won ANY Cups. In any system there will be breakdowns and that's when having a high quality keeper becomes important for success. The guys need to know that they'll be bailed out if they are beat by a mistake or just flat out talent. Marty Brodeur provided that like few other keepers in the history of the game.
As I watched the series this year it was clear to me that the Flyers keeper is not that good. I expect this will be the reason the Fly guys get ousted in the next round. But watching Marty fail was a bit tough on the eyes. He's not the same guy I watched in years past. He's not the same guy who battled Roy in a regular season game a few years back in what might have been one of the greatest goaltending exhibitions I ever witnessed. It made me realize that if the Marty of let's say five years ago was still here, the Flyers and not the Devils would be logging onto Leaderboard.com to post their latest golf scores.
I know that acknowledging Marty Brodeurs' skills are about the last thing you as a Ranger fan want to do right now. Man up my friends, It's time to give the guy some credit. If you are a true hockey fan then you knew this already. We have been lucky enough to see some of the best over the years. Brodeur just might be the best ever. It was his skills that along with the system that made the Devils successful. The system alone, without a top notch keeper to lean on fails. The stingy Devils were only as good as Marty was. Now, as his skills erode, the Devs become first round failures.
Marty was that good, you just weren't willing to admit it.