Monday, March 19, 2007

March Matchups: Patrick Roy vs. Martin Brodeur

Ladies and gentleman welcome back to "March Matchups," we've got another great contest coming your way. Two great goalies; two fierce competitors. The cool thing about this matchup is that there is some genuine bad blood that exists between the two participants. Also, these are two modern day athletes who are arguably the best at their position. Fortunately, I have been able to follow both of them closely since they entered the National Hockey League. You know both and if not, the hell with it, let's open up a fresh can of whupass and hook 'em up!

Patrick Roy vs. Martin Brodeur
I remember very well the debut of Patrick Roy, and what an entrance, or entré, "St. Patrick" made. After being drafted 51st overall in the 1984 N.H.L. Draft, Roy won a Stanley Cup in 1986 for the Montreal Canadiens; beating the New York Rangers in the Conference Finals, before knocking off the Calgary Flames. Roy (pictured on top) would also win the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP; and at 20 was the youngest player in NHL history to capture that prestigious award.

The 6'2", 190 pound, Roy, would hoist Lord Stanley's Cup in 1993 after winning 10 straight overtime playoff games and going on an 11-game tear without a loss during that post-season. By the way, he also bested Wayne Gretzky and the Los Angeles Kings in the Finals.

Roy would get dealt from Montreal to Colorado after a terrible fallout with then Head Coach Mario Tremblay in December 1995. All the better for Roy, however, because he would go on to win two more Cups with the Colorado Avalanche in 1996 and 2001.

Roy won the Conn Smythe in 1993 and 2001; the Vezina (awarded to the best goalie as voted on by the General Managers) in 1989, 1990, and 1992, and the William M. Jennings Trophy (awarded to the goalie with the lowest goals against) in 1987, 1988, 1989, 1992, and 2002. He retired following the 2002-2003 season.

He is also noted for his records, which include: most wins (551), most N.H.L. games played (1029), most Conn Smythe wins (3), and most N.H.L. playoff wins by a goalie (151). Roy could be quite surly throughout his career, and certainly was never lacking confidence. His desire was something I will always remember. Maurice "The Rocket" Richard was known for having an unparalleled intense - almost borderline crazed- look in his eyes during big games. Roy's intensity was just as strong as Rocket's.

The story of Martin Brodeur is still being written, Brodeur, 34, is one of the best goalies in the N.H.L. right now. He was drafted 20th overall by the New Jersey Devils in 1990. Brodeur (pictured making another great save) won rookie of the year (Calder Trophy) in 1993-1994 and backstopped N.J. to second in the league, finishing behind the Rangers. The Devs would be runner ups to the Blueshirts again that season losing an epic seven-game series in the Conference Finals. Brodeur was brilliant in that series, but inexplicably let in a soft goal during the second overtime of game seven. However, New Jersey bounced back the following year winning the Stanley Cup in a lockout-shortened season.

He would win the Cup in 2000 and again in 2003, maybe his best season. That year he won the Vezina, the Jennings, and was a Hart Trophy (league MVP) finalist. The Devs beat Anaheim for the Cup in seven games. In that series, Brodeur recorded three shutouts and seven overall during that year's playoffs. However, the Conn Smythe was awarded to Ducks goalie J.S. Giguere; an obvious travesty in my book. Brodeur holds an astounding 30 New Jersey Devils' records and is also one of a handful of goalies to have scored more than once in his career. This season he notched his 462nd career win, moving him into second place all-time, behind Roy's 551. He also recorded his 85th career shutout to move ahead of Glen Hall for third all-time.

Brodeur penned his own book a few years ago and stated that he never has forgiven Patrick Roy for insisting on starting every single game for Canada at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. Incredibly, Canada failed to medal at that Olympiad. However, with Brodeur clearly as the number one goalie, Canada would win the Gold at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The knock on Marty Brodeur is that he has benefited from the Devils' system that they used for many years: the neutral zone trap. However, Brodeur continues to play extremely well, despite a lack of offensive output from the Devs and the loss of several key defenseman, notably Scott Stevens. Let's revisit this matchup when Brodeur's career is over a few years from now, but at this point in time I have to go with Patrick Roy as the winner of this contest.

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