"It really was an easy decision from a right-thing-to-do perspective," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday. "He's done so much in his career with the Devils and also he's played some excellent hockey for us this year."
The Devils were given an opportunity to experience the elements Saturday afternoon during an hour-long practice at the Stadium. DeBoer guided his team through a controlled scrimmage then a few basic drills before players, coaches and team personnel had a chance to skate with their families.
DeBoer made the announcement about Brodeur at his post-practice press conference.
"The tough part was that Cory [Schneider] was on a little bit of a roll," DeBoer said. "He had been almost unbeatable the last five or six games, so that threw a little bit of a wrench into the thinking, but at the end of the day, this was the right thing to do, and both guys handled it professionally."
Brodeur was happy to be given the start in his first outdoor game (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC). It will be his first start since Jan. 18, a 27-save, 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.
NHL STADIUM SERIES NY COVERAGE
DEVILS VS. RANGERS: JAN. 26, 12:30 PM ET
"I'm happy to play a game," the 41-year-old said. "It's been a while; it's been over a week. There's a little different setting to do it; it's exciting. This organization has been talking about it for a few months now, since we got the call we're going to play in this game. The fact I'm playing in the game, I'm definitely happy about that."
Schneider made 30 saves in a 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals on Friday at Prudential Center. He is 5-1-2 with an 0.96 goals-against average, one shutout and .961 save percentage in his past eight starts dating to Dec. 28.
"I didn't go to [DeBoer], but he just pulled me aside and said that it has been 20 years in the making for Marty and it's a big moment for the organization to have him start," Schneider said. "It would be symbolic of what he's meant to this team. He's played well all season long, and I know the coaches want to get him into a game. We have all faith in him in the world that he can get the job done."
Brodeur has won two of the three games against the Rangers this season. He's 13-10-4 with a 2.36 goals-against average and .905 save percentage in 27 games.
DeBoer was asked why he wouldn't start the goalie with the higher save percentage in a crucial game against a Metropolitan Division rival. Brodeur has played two more games than Schneider (9-9-7) this season.
"I'm not a big statistics guy," DeBoer said. "I think those are a little misleading. I think despite the fact Marty's save percentage is a little lower, he's still played excellent hockey. I think it would be too foolish to toss one of them to the side; the schedule is too condensed. You have Olympics coming up and more back-to-backs and two guys capable of playing."
DeBoer said he was glad Schneider took the news in stride.
"He showed amazing professionalism, and I think he recognized that there was a decision to be made and he went out on his own and pretty much helped make the decision easy," DeBoer said. "Not many teammates would do that. We probably would have made that decision anyway, but it was comforting as a coach to hear his feelings about it."
Brodeur's next victory against the Rangers will be the 50th of his career. He is 49-30-5 with 15 ties and nine shutouts in 99 regular-season games.
"We're lucky to have, basically, two No. 1 goalies in this organization; that's pretty fortunate," Devils captain Bryce Salvador said. "I think Marty deserves it. He's a fascinating player and has done everything and I think he has every record. I think this will be a great experience for him. We don't know how many years he has left, and all these little things he can get, he'll cherish them."
Devils forward Michael Ryder agreed.
"With all the things he's accomplished in his career, this is just another one," Ryder said. "He's excited about it. He's a competitor and he definitely wants to win this game [Sunday]."