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Brodeur to Devils: Hedberg best option right now

by Dan Rosen /
NEWARK, N.J. -- Martin Brodeur has dedicated his Hall of Fame career to serving as the rock behind the Devils' defense. Thursday morning, the NHL's all-time leader in wins said that earlier this week he informed goalie coach Chris Terreri that right now Johan Hedberg is New Jersey's best option in net.

Talk about something you'd never expect to hear.

Hedberg, who has given up just six goals in his last three outings, will get his second straight start Thursday night against the Flyers. It'll mark the first time Brodeur will dress as a backup for consecutive games in seven years.

"If that message was relayed (to coach Jacques Lemaire) I don't know, but I wanted to make sure they know I'm comfortable with it," Brodeur said of his conversation with Terreri. "Sometimes they don't react a certain way because of who I am, or for whatever reason I don't know why, but I wanted to make sure they made their own decision and not think about me. I'll be fine. Heddy has been playing really well.

"I got pulled three times in (my) last six games. Any other goalie wouldn't be able to get back in the net, but I've got the luxury that they make me play. I told them if I take a little break it wouldn't be that big of a deal. I'm working hard and I'll get back in there soon."

Brodeur hasn't won a game since Dec. 15. He's 1-8 with a no decision in his 10 starts since returning from an elbow injury on Dec. 10 in Ottawa. The no decision came last Saturday in Carolina when he was burned for three goals on seven shots in just eight minutes before Lemaire mercifully pulled him from the game.

Almost shockingly, Brodeur is 5-18-1 this season with a League-worst .882 save percentage.

"He's a fighter, but it's something new for him. It never happened," Lemaire said. "He only knows what's really going on inside and how he takes things. It's gotta be different for him because he's been on top, he's been the best for a long time. Now it's tougher for him, but he's a fighter."

Lemaire on Thursday will coach his seventh game since being brought back for the fired John MacLean on Dec. 23. He has seen enough over his first six to note that Brodeur does not deserve all the blame for his struggles.

"He's had bad games in the past but he bounced back the following game. Here it's not only him, it's the team too that makes him like this," Lemaire said. "It's how we play in front of him, too. You look at last game that I pulled him, he made the first three saves on the goals. He made the first save, there was a goal. He made another save, they got a goal. He made another save, they got a goal. If you go back to all the games, how many saves has he made like that where the puck has gone in the net? So, it means something -- we have to play better in front. That's why I can't only blame him, it's the whole team."

Brodeur won't absolve himself that easily even if he's probably never seen a Devils' team play so poorly in front of him.

"You don't get the goal support, but when you don't give them a chance to get into the game because you're down 2-0 or 3-0 right from the get go, you're not doing your job either," Brodeur said. "It goes hand in hand."

Lemaire said he can see by watching practice that Brodeur is getting closer to earning another start. It could come Saturday when the Devils play the second half of their home and home against Philadelphia.

If Brodeur does play at Wells Fargo Center it'll be the first time he's started against the Flyers this season.

"When you play a lot and you don't win it plays mind games a little bit. I wanted to refocus on the right things and that's what I've been doing this week," Brodeur said. "People have bigger egos than I do. For me it's important to play well, feel good and have fun doing it. It's been really tough so I wanted to take a step back and work."

"I've been working hard, talking to Chris and I'll feel better when I get back in the net."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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