Brodeur eyeing Thursday for return to action

Monday, 03.18.2013 / 11:36 AM

Martin Brodeur had a pinched nerve in his upper back that has kept him out since Feb. 21, the New Jersey Devils goaltender told reporters Monday.

Brodeur was back on the ice Monday practicing with his teammates at AmeriHealth Pavilion in Newark for the first time in almost a month.

Brodeur, who was placed on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 24 with back soreness, began skating privately on March 12. Devils coach Pete DeBoer told the media on Saturday that the future Hall of Fame goalie wasn't "too far off" from returning.

According to reporters who were present, Brodeur stayed on the ice for the full practice. However, he won't be ready to start Tuesday night against the New York Rangers at Prudential Center (MSG, MSG PLUS 2, 7 p.m. ET). It will be the second of four meetings between the Atlantic Division rivals. New Jersey scored a 3-1 victory on Feb. 5 in Newark behind Brodeur's 24-save performance.

Brodeur hasn't played since Feb. 21, a span of 12 games, when he backstopped the Devils to a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals on 19 saves. Brodeur did dress as Johan Hedberg's backup in losses to the Capitals on Feb. 23 and Winnipeg Jets on Feb. 24.

For the season, the 40-year-old Brodeur is 8-2-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout. He is the National Hockey League's career leader in games played (1,204), victories (664) and shutouts (120).

In Brodeur's absence, Hedberg has started every game for the Devils and was pulled twice in losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning on March 5 and Carolina Hurricanes on March 9. Hedberg made his 12th straight start for the Devils in a loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday at Prudential Center. The Swede is 3-7-2 with a 2.92 GAA over that 12-game stretch.

In 16 appearances this season, the 39-year-old Hedberg is 5-8-3 with a 2.71 GAA, .888 save percentage and one shutout.

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