After a month away from the ice, the NHL’s winningest goalie of all time will return to the net.
The New Jersey Devils officially announced (per the team's website) that Martin Brodeur will be back in the crease to face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night after suffering pain from a pinched nerve in his back for the past month.
Brodeur, the NHL's all-time leader in wins (664) and shutouts (120), was activated for the loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night, but served as the backup and saw no ice time.
The Devils (13-11-6) can certainly use the help, as the team has struggled mightily in Brodeur’s absence, going 3-8-2 with backup netminder Johan Hedberg steering the ship.
Hedberg (5-9-3) is not the only reason for the Devils’ woes, as he has been strong at times. Injuries, lack of scoring and mental lapses have also contributed to the Devils falling to the No. 9 spot in the playoff standings.
Devils captain Bryce Salvador believes, however, that the return of the 40-year-old Brodeur (8-2-3) can make an immediate impact (per The Star-Ledger's Rich Chere):
"Definitely. He’s one of those players who can definitely control the game. It’s nice having him back. By no means is that a knock against (Hedberg). Marty is a presence in the net."
With 32 points each, the Hurricanes, New York Rangers and Devils are all clamoring for the No. 7 and No. 8 spots in the playoff standings, with the Rangers and Hurricanes holding tiebreakers over the Devils.
A win tonight could put the Devils in sole possession of the No. 7 spot.
With 18 games to go in the shortened NHL schedule, the Devils are relieved to get some good news after forward Alexei Ponikarovsky was pulled from the game against the Rangers and did not travel with the team to Carolina due to a lower-body injury.