-- New Jersey Devils
goalie Martin Brodeur
made it through his second straight practice unscathed Friday and declared himself ready to go whenever his number is called.
That won't be Friday, however, when the Devils host the New York Rangers
here at Prudential Center. Johan Hedberg
(10-10-2, 2.63 GAA, .905 save percentage) will make his fifth straight start.
Brodeur, who will backup Hedberg, has missed the last four games with a right knee sprain. Brodeur is 8-1-1 in his last 10 starts, but was injured in the first period of the Devils' 4-1 win in Montreal on Feb. 6.
"I just have to warm it up pretty good," Brodeur said following practice Friday morning. "I was able to react and do the normal things that I've been able to do in games and that makes me think I'm OK. I feel good enough to be a backup, and if called upon, I'll be ready to go. I feel good enough to get in there, there's no doubt about that."
"I feel good enough to be a backup, and if called upon, I'll be ready to go. I feel good enough to get in there, there's no doubt about that." -- Martin Brodeur
In his absence, the Devils (23-30-4) have won four straight, due in large part to Hedberg's play. He made 25 saves to pick up the victory Wednesday as the team improved to 13-1-2 since Jan. 9.
Devils coach Jacques Lemaire
told the media he hasn't considered who will start Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes
in Raleigh. He's taking it one game at a time.
"We'll take care of (Saturday's starter) tonight," Lemaire said. "(The Rangers game) is plenty for us. Hopefully Heddy will keep playing the way he's been playing … really well. Marty, right now, hasn't played a game for a long time, so he's not at his best, for sure."
Brodeur has enjoyed his team's turnaround, and despite the fact he won't have an opportunity to face his Atlantic Division nemesis Friday, is hoping the team can keep it going.
"I think guys are feeling good about themselves, but we have a difficult task to overcome," he said. "We have to rely so much on other teams and what they do, but guys are upbeat and I think it's a big difference from what we had to go through in the first half of the season.
"Yeah, I'll miss not being in there tonight, but I'll have a good seat for the game."
While Brodeur won't be playing, defenseman Anton Volchenkov
will, as he returns from serving a three-game suspension for a hit to the head on Carolina's Zach Boychuk
on Feb. 8.
"It's a big game (against the Rangers), and while the suspension slowed me down, I'm ready to go now," Volchenkov said. "I will still play my style of game. The hit was an accident -- that's hockey. It was the first time I was ever suspended so it was tough to sit and watch the team. I play hard every game, so I'm looking to get back at it."
Volchenkov has 4 assists and a plus-2 rating in 39 games this season. He is second on the team with 98 hits and is tied for second on the team with 80 blocked shots.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale