NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur went on the ice at Prudential Center on Friday thinking he was going to be fine to play against the Rangers. He left the ice early after discovering the pain in his bruised right elbow remains too sharp for him to deal with.
Johan Hedberg will be in the nets tonight for the Devils when they take on their cross-river rivals. Jeff Frazee was called up from AHL Albany to serve as the backup.
Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov will make his return after missing 12 games with a broken nose and stiff neck, but blueliner Colin White will be out due to the flu, so the Devils also recalled Alexander Urbom from Albany.
New Jersey still is looking for its first win at home (0-4-1). The Rangers are coming off a 4-1 loss in Philadelphia on Thursday, but they are 4-2-0 on the road and 2-0 in the second game of back-to-backs.
"I'm fine, just not ready to play today," Brodeur said. "I thought I was going to be OK, but still there's pain in the elbow and if I'm not 100 percent there's no sense for me to go out there in a big game like this. I really thought I was going to be OK, but there are things I have to do with my stick and if it would be on the glove side I think I'd be OK to play. But just because I have to hold my stick it's a little too painful for me. Extending my arm with having a weight at the end is just too much of a sharp pain for me on the elbow."
Brodeur injured his elbow when he was struck by Patrick Kane's shot early in the second period of Wednesday's victory against the Blackhawks. He tried to stay in the game, but couldn't grip his stick so he pulled himself out. X-rays taken at United Center were negative and Brodeur predicted to reporters after the game that he would be able to play against the Rangers.
He was wrong.
"The first couple of shots and even shooting the puck (this morning) was fine, but I swatted a puck out for a rebound and felt a sharp pain from there," Brodeur said. "I said, 'Ah, it's not worth it.'"
After tonight's game, the Devils don't play again until Wednesday. Brodeur hopes the four-day breather will give his elbow a chance to heal fully.
The Devils remain without Zach Parise (knee surgery), Bryce Salvador (concussion), Brian Rolston (sports hernia surgery), Jacob Josefson (hand), Mark Fraser (hand) and Matthew Corrente (hand).
"If that sharp pain doesn't go away, there is no way for me to play, but I believe it's going to go away," Brodeur said. "It got better from when I got hit to today. It's not something I'm going to hurt worse. It's not a pull, just a bruise. Whenever I'm able to deal with the pain I'll be back. Hopefully four days will help that out."
Hedberg said he learned he was getting the start toward the middle of the Devils' morning skate. He was not surprised.
"I always try to stay focused because you never know what is going to happen," Hedberg told NHL.com. "I won't say I am surprised, but I won't say that I was expecting it, either."
Hedberg made 21 saves in relief of Brodeur on Wednesday to pick up his first win as a Devil. In his only start this season, he gave up four goals on 15 shots against Buffalo on Oct. 23 before being pulled in favor of Brodeur in the second period.
"It felt good to get in there and not feel out of place," Hedberg said of his effort Wednesday. "It's always different when you don't play regularly, but I felt like I was playing the game the way I wanted to play. That's good."
Volchenkov's return was a welcome bit of good news in the Devils' world. He has sat out the last 12 games with a broken nose and a stiff neck, injuries he suffered when he was struck in the nose by Nicklas Backstrom's slap shot during the Devils' 7-2 loss to Washington on Oct. 9. He was skating with the Devils' AHL affiliate in Albany while the big club was out west for a stretch of five games.
"I got some good skates in, good practices and good conditioning. I'm ready to go," said Volchenkov, who admitted he saw five different doctors for his injuries. "I'm going to play my game. I can't play any different hockey."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl