The New Jersey Devils are the best team in the league at not taking penalties. For the last 5 years in a row, the New Jersey Devils have led the NHL in fewest times shorthanded. They have averaged just 283 times shorthanded per season (3.5 per game), which is nearly 10% better than the second place finishers over that same time period. Given that the average even-strength shot had about an 8% chance of going in this year, while the average power play shot was likely to be a goal 13% of the time (and 19% of the time with a two-man advantage), facing fewer power plays is clearly a big advantage to the goalies on disciplined teams.
Martin Brodeur ranked 1st among all NHL starters this season in terms of the lowest percentage of shots faced on the power play. Just 15.8% of his shots came with a man disadvantage. Some other goalies had it a lot tougher, such as for example Roberto Luongo, Cristobal Huet, and Olaf Kolzig, all of whom faced over 25% of their shots on the penalty kill.
Using each goalie's shots faced on special teams and at even strength, I calculated their expected save percentages based on the league average for starting goalies at each game situation. Brodeur ranked first with an expected save percentage of .911, compared to a league average of .908. Luongo, Huet, and Kolzig all were expected to finish around .906. Brodeur's save percentage should therefore be about .005 better than Luongo's, simply because of his special teams advantage. It was virtually the same, which indicates which goalie has had a better year.
New Jersey's penalty kill has not only been infrequent, it has been very good. In each of the last 5 years, they have ranked among the top 6 teams in the league in terms of fewest power play goals against. This has a lot to do with them not taking penalties, but they also ranked top 6 in terms of efficiency in three of those years, including this one. Could it be that Brodeur is an excellent penalty killer who just never gets a chance to shine?
Evidence suggests no. This year he was very good, with a .904 shorthanded save percentage, 5th in the league among starting goalies. The previous four years, however, his best rank was 12th and his save percentages ranged from .849 to .878. In 2002-03, Brodeur's Vezina and Stanley Cup winning season, he stopped just 86.6% of power play shots against, for 18th best among starters. Nevertheless, the Devils ranked 1st in the league in efficiency, and led the league with just 32 power play goals against all season, indicating they did an excellent job in front of their goalie. New Jersey's success on the penalty kill is primarily a function of their discipline and defensive play up front, more so than the performance of the goaltender.