Martin Brodeur will start tonight for the 29th straight game putting him on pace for a miraculous 79 games on the season. Through his first 48 starts the all-time shutout leader leads the League in shutouts and wins leading his Devils to a familiar place atop the Atlantic Division.
With this year being an Olympic year one has to wonder just how much more Brodeur can hold up. Not counting last year in which he missed over half the season, the 37-year-old averages 76 starts after the lockout. Only once did the Montreal native eclipse this mark pre-lockout and that came back in the 1995-1996 season.
At this rate, Brodeur appears superhuman.
Coach Jacques Lemaire seems poised to ride his veteran until the Olympics where they expect him to start for Team Canada. With this excessive workload he will break down eventually, most likely during the Devils playoff run.
In 1995-1996 the team missed the playoffs as he broke down during the stretch run. Nearly ten years later he played 78 games and the team dropped in the second round. The next year he played in 77 games, where the Devils dropped in a mere five games.
Hopefully Lemaire sees this pattern and the Devils will rest Brodeur once they can afford to.
A simple drop in games from 77 to 75 apparently makes a difference in his game come playoff time. However when you factor in the Olympics he would need to drop his games to around 70, putting extra responsibility on backup Yann Danis. Considering the backup’s 3-0 record, 1.83 GAA and .934 SV% stat line it cannot be too much of a risk.
Fantasy owners stay aware as Lemaire may see the light and rest his star down the stretch. Nevertheless, the head coach seems intent on working him as hard as possible.