COMMENTARY | New Jersey Devils coach Pete DeBoer announced that Cory Schneider will get the starting nod on Tuesday against Columbus, making it the first time Schneider has started back-to-back games this season. After Schneider's shutout against the New York Rangers on Saturday, it's not that hard of a decision to make. You don't bench a goalie coming off a shutout when there is no clear-cut No. 1 starter.
DeBoer deserves credit for making the decision that gives the team the best opportunity to win. Brodeur is a competitor who wants to play and it can't be much fun for any coach to tell a future Hall of Fame player that they will be on the bench.
Schneider has been excellent for the Devils so far this season and is in the process of firmly establishing himself as the team's best goalie. Schneider's .927 save percentage and 1.99 goals-against average look all that more impressive compared to Brodeur's .865 save percentage and 3.40 goals-against average.
Brodeur's dismal effort against Ottawa on Thursday, in which he allowed four goals on 22 shots, rekindled talk if it was time for him to hang up his skates to avoid tarnishing his image, but Brodeur is still a competent National Hockey League goalie. His slow start to the season is nothing new for the storied netminder, who also had to deal with the passing of his father near the end of training camp.
Brodeur has heard that it might be time for him to retire during the last two full NHL seasons. In the 2010-11 season, Brodeur was 10-19-2 with an .895 goals against average and a 2.84 goals-against average at the All-Star break. In the second half of the season, Brodeur was 13-7-1 with a .919 save percentage and a 1.84 goals-against average.
In 2011-12, Brodeur was 14-12-2 at the break, but had a dismal .894 save percentage and allowed 2.77 goals per game. He turned around and went 17-9-2 with a .921 save percentage and posted a 2.05 goals-against average the second half of the season, while leading the Devils to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Brodeur has played hockey long enough to know when it's time to step aside for good. He has too much pride to play when he knows he can no longer live up to the standards he has set for himself.
This is a transition year for the Devils between the pipes, as the team makes the move from Brodeur to Schneider. It's the right move, both for the present and the future of the team. But don't write Brodeur off too quickly. The old man still has some good hockey left in the tank.
Allen Moody is an author and sports bettor living in Nevada. A newspaper sports reporter for 12 years, he has been a fan of the New Jersey Devils since the "Mickey Mouse" years in the early 1980s.
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