Pollard: Team defence behind Brodeur's success?

Dan Pollard
11/5/2008 11:39:14 AM
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You can still debate the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg but Martin Brodeur's first long term injury should put to rest the feeling that New Jersey's defensive system is responsible for his Hall of Fame numbers.

Seeing is believing.

Elias Sports Bureau tells us Martin Brodeur has a record of 496-269-113 (.629) since he became New Jersey's indisputable No. 1 goaltender in 1995-96. All other Devils netminders have a combined record of 51-53-13 (.491) over the same span. No other goaltender has won more than 15 games for the Devils since 1995-96 (Chris Terreri is second with 15 wins).

There are no guarantees (ask the Ottawa Senators who won 15 of their first 17 games last year), but good starts in October usually mean good things for NHL teams.
League number crunchers have found the past four Stanley Cup champs have a combined record in October of 33-4-6.

Tampa went 6-0-1 in October of 2003. Carolina was 8-2-1 in October of 2005 while Anaheim was 9-0-3 in October of 2006 and Detroit went 10-2-1 last year.

Like I said, there are no guarantees a team is going to be planning a Stanley Cup parade after a strong first month, but teams can only dig out so far when they fall into early season holes. Games get tougher to play and points harder to earn later in the season when play tightens up. Injuries also factor into losing streaks as the season wears on.

Early season gaps can prove to be too wide to narrow.

That sense of urgency prevailed in Anaheim after the Ducks lost five of their first six.

Anaheim was in serious danger of being lapped by the San Jose Sharks. The Ducks still trail but at least now find themselves on the same lap.

Carolina's strong start despite injuries could prove to be the difference in the Southeast Division where the division winner could be the only playoff team. Washington's questionable goaltending in the early going could prove to be their un-doing.

Hats off to volunteers across the country who dedicate hours of their time to minor hockey but there are times when a reality check is needed.

Coaches should coach to teach and remember even at the "AAA" level they are not coaching professionals.

For the second time in the last year I've watched a certain coach demean one of his players in public. Now at the Bantam "AA" level, this wanna-be "Scotty Bowman" very loudly called his player an "idiot". Last year this same coach, again loudly, asked his players if they wanted to lose to a team as bad as the team they were playing. That team by the way was well within ear shot of the verbal slam.

Ron Wilson summed it up well at an annual coaching clinic held by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Speaking to the gathering of minor hockey league coaches Wilson told the group he couldn't answer a lot of questions because he wasn't a minor hockey league coach. He deals with issues at the pro level.

Minor hockey league coaches would do well to remember that in the end they are still minor hockey league coaches. 

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