NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur
will return after missing nearly three weeks with a shoulder injury to face the Toronto Maple Leafs
on Wednesday night at Prudential Center.
Brodeur suffered the injury on Oct. 13 while making a diving save in the first period of a game against the Los Angeles Kings
and missed six games. Following practice Wednesday morning, the future Hall-of-Fame goaltender declared himself fit to start.
"I'm looking forward to it. It's been a long time for me," Brodeur said. "I played one game but never got any momentum going as far as my game's concerned. When you rehab, you try to go slow and that's what I did. I took my time and was able to push harder in the last few days. I felt comfortable enough to tell coach I was ready to be in there."
The Devils managed to stay afloat in the seven full games Brodeur missed thanks to Johan Hedberg
. The Devils went on to win that game against the Kings and were 2-3-1 in the six games that followed. Hedberg is 4-3-1 with a 2.28 goals-against average and .924 save percentage.
"I played one game but never got any momentum going as far as my game's concerned. When you rehab, you try to go slow and that's what I did. I took my time and was able to push harder in the last few days. I felt comfortable enough to tell coach I was ready to be in there." -- Martin Brodeur
As great as is to have Hedberg as a backup, the Devils are excited to get their star back.
"It'll be a big boost for us," captain Zach Parise
said. "We all thought Johan was doing a really good job in the net. He did more than we can ask. He gave us an opportunity to win every game. But Marty's Marty, and we're all excited to have him back."
Coach Peter DeBoer
said having only been around Brodeur for a month, he left it up to his veteran to let him know when he was completely healthy.
"With a guy like that, it's all about how his body feels," DeBoer said. "I don't pretend to know how he's feeling. I've only been working with him for a month. The only thing I will tell you is we haven't rushed him. We've told him that we want to make sure this is for the long haul, not for a week. He feels comfortable and we're going with him."
After averaging more than 70 games a season between 1995 and 2008, injuries began to take a toll on the previously indestructible Brodeur. He missed 50 games during the 2008-09 season with a torn left biceps, delaying his rise to becoming the NHL's all-time winningest goaltender. Since then, he's missed time with knee and elbow injuries.
When healthy, he's still among the game's best, and the Devils are glad to have him back.
"He's one of the best if not the best goaltender of all-time," DeBoer said. "He's one of the leaders in our dressing room, so it's an emotional and spiritual lift seeing him back on the ice and ready to play."
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