New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur could be back in net as soon as Thursday when his team plays at the Carolina Hurricanes.
Brodeur took part in practice Monday at AmeriHealth Pavilion for the first time since being placed on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 24 with back soreness. Brodeur told The (Bergen) Record on Monday that his injury, a pinched nerve in his neck/upper back, was causing numbness in his shoulder and arm.
The future Hall of Fame goalie hasn't played since making 19 saves in a 3-2 victory against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 21. After a planned game off Feb. 23 against the Washington Capitals, Brodeur removed himself from the lineup during pre-game warmups prior to the Devils' home game Feb. 24 against the Winnipeg Jets.
Coach Peter DeBoer said after practice that Brodeur could serve as the backup against the Rangers on Tuesday. Brodeur confirmed that, as well, telling reporters that dressing as the backup Tuesday is possible.
Goalie - NJD
GAA: 2.27 | SVP: 0.911
Brodeur began skating privately March 12, and DeBoer told the media Saturday that Brodeur wasn't "too far off" from returning.
That return could come Thursday against the Hurricanes. Brodeur told reporters he has been symptom-free for a week-and-a-half. He stayed away from any rigorous exercise for two weeks during his rehab.
"If I feel good by Thursday, I should be fine," Brodeur told The Record.
For the season, the 40-year-old Brodeur is 8-2-3 with a 2.27 goals-against average, .911 save percentage and one shutout. He is the National Hockey League's career leader among goalies in games played (1,204), victories (664) and shutouts (120).
Johan Hedberg will make his 13th straight start in goal Tuesday against the Rangers. He has started every game in Brodeur's absence. He is 3-7-2 with a 2.92 goals-against average over that 12-game stretch. In 16 games this season, the 39-year-old Hedberg is 5-8-3 with a 2.71 GAA, .888 save percentage and one shutout.
Additionally, DeBoer said forward Andrei Loktionov, who missed the 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday with an undisclosed injury, is day-to-day. According to The Record, DeBoer didn't rule him out of the Rangers game Tuesday.