Martin Brodeur: Best Goalie Ever (and statistical proof to back it up)

Want to start an argument amongst goalies (or non-goalies for that matter)?  Just ask them “who is the best NHL goalie ever?”

Click for video of Martin Brodeur talking about breaking Terry Sawchuk's shutout record

Regardless of era the statistics point to one man:  Martin Brodeur.  You can talk about the neutral zone trap all you want but every goalie knows a shutout is as fragile as pond ice in March… one small slip up and it’s over.   A bouncing puck, a deflection off your own player, a shot off the inside of the post instead of the outside (or in my case, once shooting the puck into my own net… don’t ask) and a shutout vaporizes in an instant.  Just mention the word “shutout” when a goalie is close to recording one and see what kind of reaction you get!  And now Brodeur has more of them than any other goalie in history.

This is the plaque presented to Terry Sawchuk to honor his 100th career shutout... a record thought unbeatable at the time.

104 career shutouts.  48 were in games where the Devils won by a two goal margin or less.  He’s had 4 seasons with double digit shutouts (and appears to be on his way to another this year).  He’s averaging almost 6 per season since the rules were changed to increase scoring.  That last statistic by the way includes the 2008-09 season that was almost entirely wiped out for him by his elbow injury and subsequent surgery so realistically you could say the expectation is even higher than 6 per season.

By tossing up a goose egg once every 10 starts the Devils can count on 16 points before the first puck drop of the season, a huge advantage at the end of the season.  In the post season he shuts out his opponent every 7.7 games, so if you’re facing the Devils in the playoffs you basically have to accept that if the series goes the full seven you’re going to get shut out once.

Still not ready to accept that Brodeur’s the best ever?  Then you’re probably not a goalie.  Read what retired NHL goalies Tom Barasso or Kevin Weekes had to say about Brodeur’s accomplishment.  They know how difficult it is to record a shutout in the NHL and they both say Brodeur was the only one who could have broken Sawchuk’s record.

The only question left for Brodeur is how high can he go in career wins and shutouts?  If he plays, and stays healthy for, the remainder of his contract through the 2011-12 season he could reach 650 career wins combined with 125 career shutouts.

Still want to debate who is the best NHL goalie ever?

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