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Weekes ready to contribute in goal

by Eric Marin / New Jersey Devils
Weekes will be in goal the night the Devils honor Martin Brodeur. – There’s nothing weird to Kevin Weekes about getting Friday’s start.

Though the Devils are honoring Martin Brodeur for his 552nd career win when they host Tampa Bay, Weekes will be getting the nod for his first appearance since March 18.

Brodeur will take the second half of the weekend back-to-back Saturday in Buffalo.

“We start games on everybody’s night,” Weekes joked. “There are a lot of holidays: Veteran’s Day, Remembrance Day. There are a lot of significant holidays or days of recognition for certain people, so in that sense I don’t really look at it like that.”

Brodeur has played in 16 of the Devils' 17 games since he returned last month, including each of the last eight. Weekes has appeared twice during that span, including his relief of Brodeur at Long Island on March 7.

“It’s good to play, bottom line,” said Weekes, who is 7-5-0 with a 2.40 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. “That’s what we’re here to do. I love to train and practice and prepare for games, but there’s nothing like playing. It’s tough to go a month and a half, two months sometimes, without playing a game. You don’t get into the flow of a game the same way when that happens. Any goalie will tell you the more often you play, the better you feel, and at least your able to build on things that way.”

With New Jersey trying for its first victory in its last seven games, Brodeur is happy to be recognized, but wants his team back in the wins column. The Devils hold a six-point lead over second-place Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division with five games remaining.

“We’d definitely love to be in a better situation,” Brodeur said. “When you have a celebration, you like people to be happy to a certain extent, but it is what is. We’ll do it tonight so we can put a lid on this whole thing. It’s definitely been nice, but we just want to get back to winning.”

Weekes is looking forward to the pregame celebration.

“He knows the respect that I have for him and for what he’s accomplished and the significance of it,” Weekes said. “If there’s anybody in here who understands that, it’s me. I understand the significance of it, and he knows how much I appreciate having him as a teammate.”

As for snapping the winless skid, Weekes believes the Devils have had what it takes to win games all season long. The club sits just one win shy of its 11th 100-point campaign.

“You want to try and play as well as we can and give ourselves a chance to be successful," Weekes said. "You can’t overthink things, and obviously we don’t think things are going to turn around overnight. We just want to play as well as we can within our gameplan, when we do that we give ourselves a chance to win. More often than not we’ve come out on the right side when we’ve done that this year.”

The Devils came into their gameday locker room Friday morning to see that their stall assignments had changed.

"It’s a little different look, I guess," head coach Brent Sutter said. "We did it a few times last year, and it’s the first time we’ve done it this year.  There’s no reason you have to do it, but it’s a little change of pace."
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