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Hedberg will face Flyers Saturday

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Hedberg to do battle Saturday with Jeff Carter and the Flyers.
With the Devils playing their most consistent hockey of the season, Jacques Lemaire is making time to rest his No. 1 goaltender.

The coach confirmed that he’ll go with Johan Hedberg for Saturday’s 1 p.m. matinee in Philadelphia.

It will be Hedberg's first start in two weeks. He got the nod at Philadelphia on Jan. 8, but was relieved by Martin Brodeur after allowing two goals on 10 shots in the first period.

He’s anxious to get back at it.

“I am,” Hedberg said. “It’s kind of back to square one again. I haven’t played for a while, so I’ll try to find my rhythm and feeling as fast as possible and go from there.”

Brodeur is 4-0-1 in his last five outings and has gotten the Devils back on track in the second half. He made 23 saves Thursday at the Rock to record his fourth shutout of the season with a 2-0 win over Pittsburgh.

The Devils (14-29-3) host Florida at 3 p.m. on Sunday afternoon, closing out three games in four days.

“Marty won’t be in the net for all the games, that’s one,” Lemaire said Friday. “And two, he’s going to play depending on how the schedule goes. He’s been in for a few games now, so I think it’d be good that he gets a rest.”

Although Hedberg has dropped his last four decisions, he was in net for the Devils’ only win in four meetings this season with the Flyers. He made 40 saves through 65 minutes, then stopped three of four in the shootout to cap a 2-1 victory on Nov. 7.

Hedberg might feel rusty, but is he really back to square one?

“Sometimes it feels like that when you haven’t played for a while,” he said. “I know what I want to feel like, but it’s always different when you don’t play. I just want to try to keep my emotions level and not get too high. Still, I want to be excited and have fun out there."

The Flyers (31-11-5) have won four straight and eight of nine. They routed Ottawa, 6-2, at Wells Fargo Center on Thursday.

By now, Hedberg knows what to expect from the defending Eastern Conference champs.

“It’s usually high-paced, and it’s going to be a little crashing the net, so you just have to be ready for that,” he said.

With 20 goals in their last five games, the Devils seem to have found their offensive swagger. That figures to help Hedberg as he gets back to work.

“I think as of late, we’ve been playing our best hockey of the year,” Hedberg said. “We’re complete all over the ice and we’re doing it consistently, which is the key for a long season. We have to keep doing it [Saturday] and the game after that, and from then on. Hopefully I can come in and do what Marty’s been doing here: get some wins.”

Rolston revival
Brian Rolston believes the Devils current hot streak actually began with the Jan. 8 loss to the Flyers.

“Absolutely,” Rolston said. “I thought our last game in Philly, the 2-1 game, we played a really good game and they just squeaked out the victory. That was kind of the start of when we started playing well as a team and started feeling better as a team. There’s no question that’s a great hockey team and we’re going to have to be at our best to beat them, but the good thing now is we feel confident we can go in and play with anybody and get a win."

Rolston has been one of the hottest Devils with two goals, four assists during the five-game surge.

“The biggest thing as a goalscorer is never overthink anything,” Rolston said. “You go out and you play and it’ll happen. Obviously, having Patrik [Elias] as a centerman doesn’t hurt. He’s looking for you. I’m a shooter, he’s a passer. He does everything. That’s always been my game. Give it to somebody, they make the play, I get open for the shot. It’s always been my game. We’ve just had a good chemistry as a line, so I think that makes a huge difference.”

Elias set up Rolston’s fourth of the year on Thursday, a blast that gave the Devils the early jump on Pittsburgh and held up as the game-winner.

“You have certain guys that can just read each other pretty well, and that’s all three of us,” Elias said. “We talk, sometimes too much, especially Zubie [Dainius Zubrus]. We’re all unselfish. We try to get each other open, get each other shots. You do that, and at the same time we’re working hard. It’s nice. We’re playing well. Even when we don’t score some of the games, we still play well.”

Injury updates
On Friday, Devils’ general manager Lou Lamoriello said defenseman Matt Taormina will undergo surgery Monday to repair a second non-displaced fracture in his ankle. Lamoriello said the first fracture has already healed.

A time table for Taormina’s return is expected Monday following the procedure.

Taormina, 24, got off to a promising start in his rookie season, with three goals and two assists in 17 games. He has been sidelined since Nov. 12.

Zach Parise, who was projected to miss three months after arthroscopic knee surgery in November, is continuing to rehab, but has yet to begin skating. Lamoriello said Parise is “progressing” and “on the right time frame.”

Lamoriello has been pleased with the team’s recent play.

“We’re starting to get some offensive production from different people, which we weren’t getting,” he said. “We’re much better defensively. We’re competing harder at this point collectively, not a couple of people one night and a couple of people the other night.”

-- Lemaire said Nick Palmieri (upper body) will not play in Philadelphia. He’s a possibility for Sunday’s game against Florida.

At practice, Mattias Tedenby replaced Palmieri on the right side of Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac. David Clarkson moved to Jason Arnott’s line with Vladimir Zharkov, and Adam Mair, a healthy scratch in the last two games, joined the fourth line with Rod Pelley and Tim Sestito.

The Rolston, Elias and Zubrus line remained intact.
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