Martin Brodeur tied Terry Sawchuk's record of 103 career shutouts, once thought to be unbreakable, with a 3-0 win over Buffalo on Monday night.
Critics of course will cite New Jersey's defense-first team approach greatly aiding Brodeur's shutout and wins all time records. Brodeur is quick to credit his teammates, too.
"I think it's just a lot of credit to the organization I've been playing all my career, the commitment defensively I think all the players who went through this organization while I was here that they made. It became a big number and hopefully it won't stop there."
I agree, all goalies' statistics are subject to their team's success. Some of the all time greats like Brodeur, Sawchuk Patrick Roy, Ken Dryden, Jacques Plante etc all benefit from playing great teams, while guys like Gilles Meloche, Rogie Vachon and, at least in the first half of his career, Gump Worsley were penalized for playing for bad teams.
Give Brodeur credit though. The 37 year old, now in his 16th full season, has been amazingly consistent. You don't become the NHL's winningest goaltender, shutout king, three time Stanley Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist by being just good.
Yes, New Jersey is a terrific defensive team and they keep a lot of the opposition's shots to the outside and might not surrender as many second and third chances. But Brodeur is a big part of that too, with his excellent puck handling helping to eliminate offensive zone set ups, his outstanding rebound control and his great ability to read and control the tempo of game.
Is Brodeur the best of all time? I'm still not sure where I sit on that one. Patrick Roy is the greatest playoff goalie in my mind. Dominik Hasek had the highest peak of any goaltender, in my opinion. Jacques Plante easily had the biggest legacy, and legacy is important in my books. But Brodeur unquestionably joins those three, and perhaps one or two others, in any conversation I have about the game's greatest goaltenders.