Marty Brodeur scored the third goal of his career last night in the New Jersey Devils' 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Sadly, it was the second time in his years of hockey that it was merely Brodeur being the last to touch the puck before an opposing player sent it into his own goal.
Things weren't always like this for ol' Marty.
After Martin Broduer scored a goal in the 1997 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Montreal Canadiens, Devils games between 1997 and the implementation of the trapezoid after the 2004-05 lockout had an extra level of intrigue. Most of the time, during that era, you knew the Devils were a good chance to win. You also knew that, save for 1999-00 and 2000-01, the odds of them blowing out a team were fairly slim. Which mean that, on many nights at Continental Airlines Arena, part of the attraction was oh my God maybe Marty will have another shot at the net.
Brodeur is nothing if not one of the more entertaining and competitive goaltenders of all time, so he would always give it a go if there was time and space. Because teams bet on Brodeur to cut off their forecheck, he often had both. He has never shot it into the net again. In my mind, every time I saw him try it at the Meadowlands, he at least got as far as center ice, but I know that can't be true.
Anyway, the trapezoid has cut down on goaltenders saying "what the hell" and firing the puck down the ice at the end of a game. There just isn't that comfortable angle capable of allowing a goalie from pulling the puck out behind the net onto his forehand in one fluid motion to shoot. Stupid trapezoid.
There was, however, a glorious era, ushered in by Ron Hextall in 1987, where goaltenders could dream. At the end of every game, and with a one- or two-goal lead and their counterpart pulled, they could aim for what is inarguably the coolest thing a goaltender can do. Six times between 1987 and 2002, goaltenders accomplished this feat. This list aims to rank them, purely in terms of skill.
6. Chris Osgood (at Hartford, Mar. 6, 1996)
Ah, any clip featuring the Whalers is always going to make hockey people wistful. Brodeur's playoff tally often overshadows it, but Osgood was the first person to do it after Ron Hextall's late 80's offensive explosion. This one is ranked behind the others because, while it was similar to Evgeni Nabakov's, Nabakov made it look a little cleaner, a bit more fluid. Osgood's shot is a bit gangly and unorthodox, but it indeed gets the job done.
5. Evgeni Nabakov (at Vancouver, Mar. 10, 2002)
Nabakov is the only non-North American goaltender to ever score on a shot, and one of only two to do it period. In fact, 10 of the 13 goalie goals have been scored by Canadians (Damian Rhodes and Mika Noronen the only other non-Canadians). Nabakov's shot is pretty impressive, as you can see him almost fake the shot once before sending a line drive down into the Canuck net.
4. Ron Hextall (vs. Boston, Dec. 19, 1987)
The first one is always memorable. Hextall's first isn't higher on this list merely because he also scored a freaking playoff goal, but it's one of the two that were scored from the side of the goalie's own net, rather than from the straight-up angle. The greatest thing is that this one would also be totally fine under the current trapezoidal rules.
3. Martin Brodeur (vs. Montreal, Apr. 17, 1997)
The only goaltender other than Hextall to do it on home ice. This one absolutely would not have happened with the trapezoid involved, as Brodeur stretches out to get the puck just right on his paddle. As the analysts for Hockey Night in Canada point out, Brodeur's shot doesn't touch ice until it nearly crosses the Canadiens blue line at the other side.
2. Ron Hextall (at Washington, Apr. 11, 1989)
In watching the YouTube clip, part of the greatness of this is a vintage Mike Emrick and Bill Clement both openly rooting for Hextall to take a shot. Also, earlier in the clip, a sight at a trend that only would happen with Hextall or Brodeur: defensemen would pass the puck back to them intentionally. This was known for years as "the Lyle Odelein play" in New Jersey, but Jay Wells shows it as an effective play for the Flyers here. Very similar to Brodeur's goal, we'll give Hexy the higher spot just for being first.
1. Jose Theodore (at NY Islanders, Jan. 2, 2001)
Because, well, he did it on a backhand, you guys.
I mean, honestly, how did he do that? He didn't even seem to put any particular heft into the backhand attempt, but it floats down the ice and somehow past everyone. The Islanders would go on to make the postseason the next three years after this happened, but this could be looked at as one of the real nadirs of a very dark period and a season where they lost 50 games. But serious, he scored on a backhand! A play like that makes you want to rid the world of that silly trapezoid right now. In fact, every one of these goals does.