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At the Rink: Avalanche at Blues

by Louie Korac / NHL.com
ST. LOUIS -- If it winds up being the last game for Martin Brodeur in a St. Louis Blues uniform, or any uniform in the NHL, the likely Hall of Fame goalie said he has no regrets.

With Brian Elliott's return imminent from a knee sprain sustained on Nov. 25, the Blues will be in the position of having to carry three goalies.

General manager Doug Armstrong has maintained recently that the Blues will keep three goalies (including Jake Allen) until they're absolutely certain Elliott is healthy and doesn't have any setbacks. The first indicator of that came when the Blues placed left wing Magnus Paajarvi on waivers Monday.

But for 42-year-old Brodeur, who will start Monday against the Colorado Avalanche looking for NHL victory No. 691, it's been a unique situation for him after spending 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils. But he's living moment to moment and having fun doing it.

"I'm trying to enjoy every single time I'm out here," said Brodeur, who is 2-2-0 with a 3.29 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in five games with St. Louis. "The future, at the end of the day, it's not going to be in my hands. Somebody else will decide. I'll try to make the best out of the situation that we're in right now. I'm glad that [Elliott] is coming back. I think as a team, putting the best product out there is what's the most important thing. Him coming back will be a big lift.

"It's been great. When I went home for Christmas, that was the question -- and they're not even reporters -- my family was asking. I've really enjoyed myself. This is a great opportunity for me to get back and hopefully it's going to last a lot longer, but if it doesn't, this has been a great month and hopefully it continues."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, who has a long history with Brodeur on the international level with Canada, said keeping three goalies for the time being makes sense.

"I don't believe Doug is prepared to go down to two goalies until he's assured that Brian is coming back, and then when he does play, he comes out of the game healthy," Hitchcock said. "I think it would be prudent for us to stay with three knowing that Brian is not going to go from playing a hockey game to awful sore and not be able to participant for another few days. So I think he wants to really guard on that sense and I don't blame him a bit for doing that."

Brodeur's teammates are also living in the moment, knowing that this time with arguably the greatest goalie in the game is a teammate and interacting with them on a regular basis.

"It's so cool," right wing T.J. Oshie said. "That's one of the coolest things about our sport. The greats, they play for a long time. A lot of guys get to be their teammate and that's something you can always say. When Lyla (Oshie's daughter) grows up and she sees Brodeur in the Hall of Fame and she sees his jersey hanging up, I can tell her I played with that guy. He's a great guy who I got the best of on the golf course once. It's pretty cool.

"He's been great to have around from a leadership standpoint, from a winning presence that he has. It's been great for us younger guys to see him go about his day and see how much fun he has on the ice, even in practice. I rarely score on him, but when I do I've got to celebrate because he's doing it when he stops me."

Brodeur, who signed a pro-rated one-year contract worth $700,000 plus incentives, knew the situation when he came in, and said he understands that anything can happen, including the potential of perhaps changing jerseys again.

"It would be another big change," Brodeur said laughing. "One big change a year could be enough. We'll see. We'll cross that bridge if it happens. Right now, I'm concentrating on being here and enjoying myself and try to help the team any way I can.

"I'm open to any kind of a situation. I'm just happy I'm on the roster of an NHL team and a great team this is. It's a fun atmosphere. Regardless of what it takes, we need to help the team one way or the other. I'm ready for it."

Here are the projected lineups:

AVALANCHE

Maxime Talbot - Matt Duchene - Nathan MacKinnon

Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Daniel Briere

Alex Tanguay - John Mitchell - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche

Jan Hejda - Erik Johnson

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Brad Stuart - Zach Redmond

Nick Holden

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Injured: Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jamie McGinn (back), Patrick Bordeleau (kneecap), Ben Street (hand), Jesse Winchester (concussion).

BLUES

Alexander Steen - David Backes - T.J. Oshie

Chris Porter - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Dmitrij Jaskin - Paul Stastny - Ryan Reaves

Steve Ott - Patrik Berglund - Maxim Lapierre

Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo

Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk

Chris Butler - Ian Cole

Martin Brodeur

Jake Allen

Scratched: Joakim Lindstrom, Magnus Paajarvi

Injured: Brian Elliott (knee), Carl Gunnarsson (concussion), Jaden Schwartz (foot)

Status report: The Blues assigned defenseman Petteri Lindbohm to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League because Gunnarsson is close to returning, likely for games this weekend. ... Reaves was moved up to the third line and Berglund will center the fourth line after playing with Stastny and Jaskin the past few games. ... Cole returns to the lineup after being scratched five of the past seven games. ... The Avalanche assigned goalie Calvin Pickard to the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL on Sunday along with forward Dennis Everberg. Colorado will play 11 forwards and seven defensemen.

Who's hot: Johnson, the top pick in the 2006 NHL Draft by the Blues, has a goal in four straight games and six goals in six games. Iginla has a goal and four assists in the past four games. He has 29 goals and 73 points in 67 games against St. Louis. ... Tanguay has three goals and five points in five games. ... Pietrangelo has a point in eight of nine games. ... Tarasenko has 15 points (nine goals) in 13 games.

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