Martin Brodeur is hockey’s man behind the mask

The Prudential Center crowd chanted, “Marr-tty…Marr-tty,” in the closing moments of yet another New Jersey Devils’ victory on Tuesday night. But this night was special; Martin Brodeur recorded his record-breaking 552nd win, eclipsing Patrick Roy’s NHL record for career victories by a goaltender. He finished his historic chase in typical Marty fashion by winning eight of his last nine starts since returning to the lineup on February 26th.

Major elbow surgery in November kept him out of the lineup for 50 games. Brodeur didn’t think he would even play again this season, as he never sustained a major injury in his 15-year career. Doctors reassured him that he would be back between the pipes for the Devils in 16 weeks if there were no setbacks in his rehabilitation process.

Early on, skeptics questioned if Brodeur could play in consecutive games. Hey, this is Martin Brodeur, a man who started in a record 78 games in the 2006-07 season and averaged 70 starts for 10-straight years. There’s no question that he is durable enough to handle the physical rigors of playing back-to-back games especially considering how fresh he was by being away from competition for four months.

Brodeur’s run to the record was virtually uncovered by the press until he headed back to his hometown last weekend. The Montreal radio airwaves were buzzing with “Marty talk” leading up to Saturday night’s contest at the Bell Centre. And he didn’t disappoint his hometown fans, stopping 22 of the 23 shots attempted for a 3-1 victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens. Afterward, he received a hero’s welcome with a standing O from the Montreal fans.

Eight wins seemed like an eternity for Brodeur after sustaining a major elbow injury. It was a remarkable feat achieving history in a mere nine games since his return to the lineup. But the milestones do not stop there; he is three shutouts away from breaking Terry Sawchuk’s league record of 103 shutouts in a career. This could be another amazing ride towards history, but the way he is playing, it could be a short one.

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Some already questioning Brodeur’s win record

Goalie Martin Brodeur earned his record-breaking 552nd career win (formerly held by Patrick Roy) Wednesday night the Devils topped the Blackhawks in New Jersey. But some are already questioning the legitimacy of Brodeur’s record.

Like Maris’ mark, Brodeur’s record comes with a statistical debate. Brodeur has 27 shootout victories, to none for Roy, who retired before the NHL instituted shootouts.

That gives Brodeur a boost of extra victories, due to modern rules. Few doubt, however, that Brodeur at age 36 will go on to win far more games in the future, perhaps another 100 or so.

The discussion on merit is more compelling. The Devils, after all, play a systematically defensive game in front of Brodeur. Roy didn’t have it quite as safe in Montreal. Hasek, meanwhile, posted a .922 save percentage, eight points higher than Brodeur’s.

Brodeur offers his own defense, indirectly.

“If you control rebounds, you cut down eight-to-10 shots a game,” he said. “That’s the way I manage the game.”

He managed just fine again Tuesday night, setting a record that really matters.

One of the best and worst things about statistics in sports is that everything is left up for debate. It can be fun to debate legendary sports stats, but it can also be nauseating.

The bottom line is that Brodeur is one of the finest goalies ever to play the game of hockey. Let him enjoy his moment before we start dissecting every little detail that comes with his record-breaking honor.

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