In his new book, radio host Bob McCown rates Martin Brodeur as the third best goalie of all-time. One of his arguments is Brodeur's consistency, and he cites as evidence the fact that Brodeur has only once had a GAA higher than 2.50. This, of course, is a ridiculous argument. The reason Brodeur has had low GAAs is because he has faced few shots throughout his career. In most years, he would have had to have been terrible to have a GAA even close to 2.50. Here are the save percentages Brodeur would have needed to post in each year in his career for his GAA to be 2.50:
.912, .900, .905, .902, .890, .898, .900, .898, .891, .893, .897, .914, .910, .902
For seven years in a row, Brodeur only needed to hit .900 or better to have a sub-2.50 GAA. So giving him credit for achieving that arbitrary mark is misguided.
I raise a skeptical eyebrow any time someone uses the word "consistency" (could be the Fire Joe Morgan influence). This is another example of consistency inappropriately being used to praise a player, as his performance actually shows a reasonably high degree of variance. From 1994-95 to 2003-04, the average number of shots he faced per game ranged from a low of 22.8 to a high of 26.4. That is a pretty narrow range, and was well below league average every single season. His save percentages in that span ranged from .902 to .927, i.e. from below average to excellent. Four times he was at .906 or lower, three times .917 or higher, and three times in between, showing a fairly broad range of success, and it was the stingy defence that always kept him at 2.4 goals against or lower.
Brodeur has consistently played a lot of games, but that is about the only thing he has done consistently (unless you count being a member of a great defensive team). He has had a couple of outstanding seasons, as well as several mediocre ones, which is fairly typical of goalies. His low shot totals tend to hide his off-years, and make commentators gush about his consistency, but they are wrong: The consistency truly lies in New Jersey shot prevention, not in New Jersey goaltending success.