New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur is ready to return after missing 13 games with a pinched nerve in his neck. The Devils were 3-8-2 in his absence, as Johan Hedberg made all 13 starts. Brodeur, who last played on Feb. 21, has an 8-2-3 mark and a 2.27 goals-against average.
The Hurricanes will work forward Tuomo Ruutu into the lineup for the first time this season, after recovering from hip surgery in December. The team activated him from injured reserve Thursday.
“He’s excited and ready to go,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said. “We waited to see what the right opportunity was for him. I said, ‘Listen, when you feel comfortable, let me know.’ He felt comfortable enough this morning to say, ‘I’m ready."
Muller hinted that Ruutu's net-front presence might give the Carolina power play an immediate lift. The Hurricanes man-advantage unit has fallen to 29th in the League.
The Hurricanes continue to battle injuries. Defenseman Justin Faulk will miss two-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL, and fellow blueliner Joe Corvo was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to March 16. Brett Bellemore was called up from Charlotte and will replace Faulk in the lineup against the Devils. Bellemore is making his NHL debut in his fourth professional season.
Here are the projected lineups for New Jersey and Carolina: