Injuries have plagued the New Jersey Devils all season. The latest player to be sidelined may be their most irreplaceable.
The Devils will be without goaltender Martin Brodeur on Monday when they host the Buffalo Sabres.
One month into the season, New Jersey (6-2-2) has already dealt with a variety of injuries. Forwards Brian Rolston (ankle), Bobby Holik (pinkie) and Barry Tallackson (irregular heartbeat) are on injured reserve, while defenseman Andy Greene is expected to miss four to six weeks after undergoing surgery on Friday for a broken hand.
Brodeur became the latest addition to that list after bruising his left elbow during the second period of Saturday's 6-1 rout of Atlanta. The Devils' official Web site reported Brodeur will undergo an X-ray and an MRI exam. Regardless of the results of those tests, his career-high streak of 51 consecutive regular-season starts will come to an end.
The four-time Vezina Trophy winner hasn't been forced out of action since 2005-06, when he missed six games due to a sprained knee.
"You don't want to see anybody go down," Devils captain Jamie Langenbrunner said of Brodeur, who has 544 career wins - seven shy of Patrick Roy's all-time record. "Obviously, he's pretty important for us. We all hope it's not anything too serious."
Veteran Kevin Weekes replaced Brodeur on Saturday and stopped 14 of 15 shots in his first appearance of 2008-09 to help the Devils halt a season-high three-game skid. Zach Parise scored two goals, giving him seven goals and four assists during a six-game point streak.
New Jersey has called up Jeff Frazee - the team's second-round choice in 2005 - from Trenton of the East Coast Hockey League to serve as Weekes' backup.
Weekes, who went 2-2-1 with a 2.97 GAA in nine games last season, is 5-10-2 with a 3.37 GAA in 19 career starts against Buffalo (7-2-2), which snapped a three-game slide of its own Saturday with a 5-0 home victory over Washington.
Thomas Vanek's league-leading 10th and 11th goals backed Ryan Miller, who made 29 saves for his eighth career shutout.
"We did things that we talked about doing throughout the week at practice," right wing Jason Pominville, who had goal and an assist to snap a personal five-game scoring slump, told the Sabres' official Web site. "We executed well throughout the game and that's why we got the results."
Miller leads the NHL with a 1.82 GAA, but struggled in the past versus New Jersey, going 3-6-3 with a 2.52 GAA in 12 career matchups.
Vanek owns a team-high 14 points, but has been held to a goal and an assist in 12 games against the Devils.
All four meetings between New Jersey and Buffalo last season went to shootouts, with the Devils winning three of them.