New York City and New Jersey are so close to each other that the New York Giants and New York Jets both play their home games in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Proximity breeds rivalry, and that has been the case ever since the NHL’s Colorado Rockies moved to New Jersey in 1982 and became the Devils. Rangers fans, and the Devils faithful have always had plenty to disagree about. Currently, they battle over a question that is almost impossible to answer. Who is tougher to beat between the pipes right now; the sure fire first ballot hall of fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, or the man simply known on Broadway as “King Henrik”?
If this was a job interview, and we were simply looking at resumes, the decision would be a no-brainer for Brodeur. The native of Montreal has done it all, three Stanley Cup Championships, eight All-Star game appearances, three Vezina trophies, four Jennings trophies, and he has even scored a goal. Simply “Marty” to Devils fans, Brodeur is best known for having exceptional reflexes with a lightning fast glove hand. On top of that, he is one of the best positional goaltenders to ever patrol the crease. His ability to cut off angles and frustrate shooters is almost unmatched. With the exception of Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers, no goalie has ever handled the puck with the ease and precision of Brodeur. Jump starting the offense with an outlet pass from behind the net has consistently given the Devils a weapon few teams have ever enjoyed. Assuming Brodeur stays healthy, he will end his career as the NHL’s all time winningest goalie.
So where does this leave 25 year old Henrik Lundqvist? As a 7th round pick and the 205th overall selection in 2000, he is clearly poised to become one of the all time steals in NHL draft history. After only two full seasons in the NHL, Lundqvist is already regarded by many as the best goaltender in NHL. As a rookie in the 2005-06 season, Henrik became the first Rangers rookie netminder since Mike Richter to post more than 20 wins. His total of 30 victories eclipsed the Rangers all time mark for a rookie. He finished his first campaign 30-12-9 with a 2.24 goals against average which made him the first rookie Vezina Trophy finalist in the NHL since 1995.
During that rookie campaign “King Henrik” led Team Sweden to the Olympic Gold Medal at the 2006 Winter Games. He was nearly unbeatable against the world’s best players with a 2.33 goals against average and a record of 5-1. That performance made everyone in the hockey world take notice of Lundqvist, while guaranteeing the Rangers the stability in net that every NHL franchise craves.
Lundqvist continued his dominant play with the resurgent Rangers in the 2006-07 season with a record of 37-22-8. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist for the second straight year after finishing his final 28 games on an amazing run that saw him go 16-4-6 with a 1.73 goals against average and a .936 save percentage. He powered New York to a playoff berth by making trademark saves that can only be appreciated by watching slow motion replays. His acrobatic nature and ability to adjust and react are as good as anyone to play the game.
This season both Brodeur and Lundqvist are making NHL sniper’s lives miserable. At the time this article was written, the Devils netminder had a stingy 2.25 goals against average, with a .912 save percentage, and two shutouts, in going 14-10-2. Across the Hudson River on Broadway, Lundqvist has been just as tough compiling a 15-11-2 record. With well over half a season to play, Lundqvist has already locked down the net for five shutouts, while posting a 2.05 goals against average and a .921 save percentage. Clearly, there is no easy answer this season to the question about who is tougher to beat.
With a debate like this that is almost impossible to settle there is only one solution. We must consult the experts! Before the Coyotes travelled cross country for a brutal east coast road trip, we enlisted the help of Head Coach Wayne Gretzky, and several other members of the team to help solve this puzzling question. Who is tougher to beat right now, Martin Brodeur or Henrik Lundqvist?