Five Things Every Goalie Should Learn from Martin Brodeur
This guest article is by Mind The Net Goaltending
There is no denying that Martin Brodeur is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. His records speak for themselves, but now we are witnessing something very rare, a 40-year-old carrying a team to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Despite all of the records and accolades, he was highly maligned this year for a game that was seemingly out of touch, out of vogue and, supposedly “ugly” by today’s views on goaltending. Although there are far more goalies that play a more rigid structure than Brodeur, there are still at least five things that every goaltender should learn from the Devils’ legend:
1. How to Show a Positive and Passionate Demeanour
One of the most lasting impressions that we should remember about Brodeur is his demeanor, which appears to be perfect for goaltending. Brodeur fully understands – and often talks about – hockey being fun before anything else.
Watch Brodeur closely during games and you can see in his body language, his interactions with others, and through his reactions to adversity that he loves what he is doing. Realistically, not all aspects of Brodeur’s career have been positive, but goalies don’t play into their 40’s unless they truly love what they are doing. Even after his huge dropped stick gaff in the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals against Anaheim he was able to laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation and because of his demeanor came back the next game with a shutout and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Essentially, he shows us that it is okay to love what we do and to show it during the good times and bad.
2. There are No Absolutes in Goaltending
There is a lot of talk right now about how “sloppy” Brodeur’s technical skills are compared to other goaltenders.
It’s the same that has been said of Dominik Hasek and Tim Thomas in recent memory. What all three goalies have in common is that they have been highly successful and consistent, which does not happen if a goalie has truly poor fundamental skills.
Sure, Brodeur’s technique does not look as polished as other NHL goalies by modern standards, but he has great fundamental strengths in several key areas, such as: mobility and agility, angles, depth, presentation of stance, stick use, and proximity to the puck.
Yes, there are times when his lack of a proper leg recovery from his knees leaves him off balance, forcing him to dive head first where a more technically sound goalie would be able to make a simple recovery push and arrive faster and more square to the second chance. But even in these desperation saves, Brodeur remains fundamentally strong with his visual attachment, never taking his eye off the puck even as he lunges across. If he did, he wouldn’t even have a chance to make those saves.
Does he look the same as everyone else? No.
Does he show us that there should be no absolutes in goaltending? You bet.
3. How to Make the Job Easier
Elite goaltenders fully understand that they have far more control over the pace of a hockey game than any other player on the ice; they are strong game managers. Basically, game management involves using all of a goalie’s tools available to slow down or speed up a game as needed depending on the situation.
The reason Brodeur is able to stay in the league this long is because of how he manages games and what he does to try to not face a shot. The team principle is to minimize high-quality scoring chances and this should be done by the goalie controlling shots properly, controlling the paint and by being involved in the transition as well.
Essentially, Brodeur is such a smart game manager that other teams must alter their forecheck just to keep the puck away from him or else the puck gets quickly turned up ice with minimal impediment. Now that is game control when the other team has to change their systems to avoid a Brodeur’s strengths.
4. The Importance of Mobility in All Areas of the Ice
Mind The Net Goaltending has been preaching for years the idea that stopping the puck is only part of the goalie’s greater job of “keeping the puck out of the net.” Brodeur is able to do many different things well in both his puck stopping and transition game because he is an all around good skater.
In order to make as many saves as Brodeur has in his career he must have elite goaltender specific skating skills, but then to be as active as he is in the transition his regular skating and puckhandling skills are elite level as well. It is his puck stopping and superior transition skills which have allowed Brodeur to become the winningest goalie in NHL history.
5. How to Develop Game Awareness Skills
Anyone who has followed Brodeur’s career knows that Brodeur possesses an uncanny ability to read plays and, at times, almost seems to have psychic knowledge of the next situation that can arise.
But, how did Brodeur develop his game awareness and anticipation skills? For years Brodeur has commented about the extensive amount of video work he and goalie coach Jacques Caron have spent dissecting the opposition, the Devils and Brodeur’s own game.
Also, Brodeur has been known for keeping actual written journals containing important information and tendencies of opposition players. He keeps actual books on opposition players. It is through video analysis and focused note taking that Brodeur has been amazing predicting where the puck is going to be and not waiting for plays to happen before moving. Brodeur’s mental skills have only been heightened and strengthened to an almost psychic level because of his analytical mind for the game.
No matter what age or style a goalie may be it is important for us all to continue to learn from a man that has won more than 700 games at the NHL level. This is especially true at a time when we can fully focus on and enjoy two great, but different, goalies battle away for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
This story was written by the coaches at Mind the Net Goaltending. Be sure to check out their website, and their blog, which has a lot of good tips for puck stoppers, as well as follow them on Twitter at @MTNgoaltending for regular discussions on all things goaltending and goalie coaching.