Reflections on Roy and Brodeur

With last Saturday night's victory over the Montreal Canadiens in the books, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur finally won his 551st NHL game to tie Hall of Famer Patrick Roy as the winningest goalie in the history of the league. Next, in just a few hours, Brodeur will take to the ice in New Jersey as the Devils play host to the Chicago Blackhawks with a chance to eclipse Roy and have the record all to himself. ↵

↵Needless to say, the passing of the torch from Roy to Brodeur has led more than a few folks to ask out loud how the two goalies stack up against one another. For one of the more complete comparisons, you might want to check out the one James Mirtle posted yesterday morning. After taking a quick look, it's easy to see that Brodeur will more than likely enjoy a significant edge statistically over his fellow Quebecker once Brodeur's career is over. ↵

↵

↵But like Mirtle, if I had to make my own choice between the two, I couldn't help but decide on Roy. I'm happy to admit that choice is based more off of perception than statistical reality. But you’ll recall that Roy started his career in the mid-1980s when goal scoring was more frequent than it is today -- when the game was on the line, it was up to Roy to pull his teammates out of the fire again and again. ↵

↵

↵When I think about the Canadiens teams that went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1986, 1989 and 1993, it's hard not to shake the impression that it was Roy's presence in the lineup that was at the heart of the team's success -- something that wasn't necessarily the case when Roy joined a Colorado Avalanche team that boasted multiple Hall of Fame talents other than his own. Now, I'm sure there will be more than a few Montreal Canadiens fans who might feel a little insulted on behalf of players like Bob Gainey, Claude Lemieux and Kirk Muller after reading that, but I can't help it -- Roy was by far those teams' dominant talent and personality. To beat the Habs, you had to beat Roy and there wasn't much else to say. ↵

↵

↵Brodeur, by contrast, while being just as critical to his team's success, always seemed to be central to a system that was designed to stifle the opposition offensively and play to his strengths. Again, I'll cop to the charge that conclusion is comprised of just as much perception as reality, as many Devils teams were far more potent offensively than the team that won the franchise's first Stanley Cup in 1995 -- a championship that seemed to cement the way many hockey fans still see the Devils franchise. ↵

↵

↵Granted, it's also a perception that was bolstered this season, as the Devils, suddenly forced to play on without their future Hall of Famer thanks to injury, managed to not only remain competitive, but to wrest the Atlantic Division lead from the New York Rangers and rise to second place overall in the Eastern Conference with Scott Clemmensen in net. Which of course brings me back to Roy. Imagine for a moment that those magical teams in 1986 and 1993 were suddenly forced to play on without him. I'm thinking you can't and truth be told, neither can I. ↵

↵

↵So how do they stack up? For now, I'll simply rank them one and one-A. ↵

↵

This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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