New Jersey Devils Announce Return of Martin Brodeur

Gene SiudutContributor IIIMarch 21, 2013

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 24:  Martin Brodeur #30 of the New Jersey Devils looks on during their game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Prudential Center on February 24, 2013 in Newark, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

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.

Brodeur’s last appearance on the ice was February 21 in a win against Washington, but he had to pull himself from the lineup just before a start against the Winnipeg Jets on February 24.

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.