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Brodeur healthy, could start Saturday

by Mike G. Morreale / NHL.com
NEWARK, N.J. -- There's an outside chance goalie Martin Brodeur will make his first start in 13 days on Saturday when the New Jersey Devils pay a visit to Carolina to close out their four-game series with the Hurricanes.
 
Following a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday, the Devils now find themselves 12 points behind the Hurricanes for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Still, Devils coach Jacques Lemaire admitted he wouldn't reveal his starter until Saturday.
 
"I've got to rest and think about this," Lemaire told the media following his team's season-high sixth straight victory.
 
Brodeur, who missed 4 games with a right knee sprain before serving as backup to Johan Hedberg on Friday, would relish the opportunity to get back between the pipes in a season that has really been unlike any other he has ever experienced in his 17 seasons.
 
"It has been a difficult season, hockey wise and injury wise," Brodeur told reporters. "I think it's been hard, but lately we've been playing well and it's been fun playing the game. I look at the big picture so I'll evaluate what I've done when the season is over but it has been difficult.
 
"It's rare for me to go out in one season and not play the way I'd like to play and not have the success I'd like to have. For me, it's something we'll try to erase and build momentum for the rest of the season … or maybe even into the playoffs, we'll see."
 
Brodeur, who has posted a 13-19-2 mark with a 2.74 goals-against average and .898 save percentage this season, realizes he has to play better when his number is called from this point forward. Prior to the injury, Brodeur was in the midst of an 8-1-1 stretch in 10 starts before suffering his knee injury in the first period of the Devils' 4-1 win in Montreal on Feb. 6.
 
"It's important to realize where you're at and what you need to do to play the game and be on top of your game," he said. "A lot of things came so easy before when the team was so good and now you need to be better because sometimes the team doesn't do so well. When you don't do the little things to make yourself better, it becomes hard. For me, it was good to take a step back when I did and I really try to work on my game and figure out what I needed to accomplish to be successful."
 
It was only last season Brodeur led the League in wins (45) for the ninth time and shutouts (9) for the fifth time. He also reached the 70-plus games-played mark for the 12th time in what is sure to be a first-ballot Hall of Fame career whenever he decides to call it quits.
 

"It has been a difficult season, hockey wise and injury wise. I think it's been hard, but lately we've been playing well and it's been fun playing the game. I look at the big picture so I'll evaluate what I've done when the season is over but it has been difficult." -- Martin Brodeur

Now, the 38-year-old goalie is just concerned with figuring out how to help his team continue its second-half surge.
 
"I think you could tell when I was hurt and we were losing and when I was hurt and now winning, the difference in the locker room, it's so much better," Brodeur said. "You see the trainers and coaching staff with big smiles and a bounce in their walk. That's what we're used to here in Jersey and we seem to have it back now."
 
And what areas of his game does he feel need improving?
 
"Well, positioning is a big thing, balance," he said. "A lot of goals had to do with the type of quality chances I had compared to what I faced before. Now, I was all over the place in my game and opening up too quick."
 
In Brodeur's absence, 37-year-old Hedberg has been nothing short of marvelous in relief -- stopping 121 of 127 shots in recording 5 straight victories. Still, Hedberg realizes it's only a matter of time before Brodeur returns to action.
 
"I'll do whatever they tell me to do," Hedberg said. "My partner is the best goaltender to ever play the game. So, if they play him, I can't argue with that."

 
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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