Last night, two different games were taking place in two different parts of the country, but the story was pretty much the same. In Calgary, Alberta, Martin Brodeur was pulled after seven minutes and change after giving up two quick goals to the Flames. In Tampa Bay, Dwayne Roloson struggled throughout a shootout loss to the Vancouver Canucks, who were coming off an offensively weak performance against the Florida Panthers the night before.
In that game, Dwayne Roloson’s save percentage was a paltry .857. Brodeur limped in to the dressing room with a .600 mark.
On the season, Roloson’s save percentage is .881. Brodeur’s is .894.
Roloson is 42 years old. Brodeur is 39.
Sensing a pattern here?
It’s tough to go hard on these two veteran goaltenders. Roloson has put together a great NHL career, and Brodeur can be placed in the Pantheon of goalie legends, among guys like Patrick Roy and Ken Dryden. In their day, Brodeur especially, these goalies were considered two of the top netminders in the world.
But those days seem long removed after watching these two veterans suit up on game night. Brodeur and Roloson look every bit their ages: their play has been sluggish, they are giving up bad rebounds, and the saves that once wowed the arena just aren’t there anymore. Even worse, skaters on their teams have to be extremely careful advancing the puck and making passes. It’s tough to play aggressive hockey when you know the goalie behind you might not be able to handle too many chances before cracking.
But despite the two goalies struggling, the Devils and Lightning find themselves on different sections of the Eastern Conference standings. New Jersey sits a cool seventh, riding solid goaltending by backup Johan Hedberg to a shot at the postseason. Hedberg’s success this season with an 11-6-1 record contrasts interestingly with Brodeur’s subpar numbers. “Moose” is 38, but he still seems to win in New Jersey’s system. As a result of the steadiness behind Brodeur, the Devils are still in the thick of the things.
Tampa Bay, however, is on the outside looking in. Roloson’s backup, Mathieu Garon, has struggled almost as mightily. With a .902 save percentage and an 11-11-2 record, Garon hasn’t exactly been the source of relief Guy Boucher has been hoping for. As a result, the Lightning are third from the bottom of the Conference standings, sitting only three points above the hapless Hurricanes.
But fortunately for both these teams, the playoffs are still certainly within reach. As the saying goes, you’re never truly out of it in the Eastern Conference. A winning streak here or there and you’re back up near the eighth spot. But if the Devils and Lightning want to have any chance of playing in April and May this year, they had better hope that Dwayne Roloson and Martin Brodeur still have a little bit of gas left in the tank.
However, these two greats are running on fumes.
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