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NEWS

NJD Notes: Practice makes perfect

Tuesday, 02.24.2009 / 5:20 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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NJD Notes: Practice makes perfect
As of Tuesday, no announcement had been made on when Brodeur will make his next start. 
newjerseydevils.com – The biggest question surrounding the Devils this week involves the date of Martin Brodeur’s return. Though the reigning Vezina Trophy winner said he’s ready to go, no official announcement has been made on when he’ll get his next start.

Through all the speculation concerning Brodeur’s status, it has been business-as-usual for the first-place Devils. Head Coach Brent Sutter said it’s a credit to his players that they have remained focused on what needs to be done with 22 games left in the regular season.

Jersey’s Team opens a three-game homestand beginning Thursday against Colorado.

“When it first went down in early November, [Brodeur’s injury] became more of a distraction on the outside because everyone for three or four days was upset, thinking, ‘There goes the Devils,’” Sutter said after Tuesday’s practice at AmeriHealth Pavilion. “We were pretty glued together inside the room. After those first few days, it hasn’t really been an issue and yet you knew this was going to happen. I understand why: the stature of Marty Brodeur.”

The Devils were 5-2-2 heading into the Nov. 1 contest in which Brodeur got hurt. They have defied skeptics by going 33-17-1 without their All-Star netminder. Brodeur is seven shy of Patrick Roy’s League-record 551 wins, and needs five shutouts to match Terry Sawchuk’s career mark of 103.

“Everyone understands now that it’s not just one man’s team,” Sutter said. “It’s about being a team. It’s about having good goaltending and having good players in front of your goaltender. It’s always been known inside the room and the organization, but people on the outside didn’t see it that way. Now I think it’s looked at differently, and it should be.”

Brodeur’s recovery time has been right on target for the three-to-four month window given after his Nov. 6 surgery.

“For me I feel really good,” Brodeur said. “Until I experience gametime, like power plays for two minutes or 5-on-3's for two minutes, pulling the goalie, shooting the puck when five guys are trying to take it from me; I have to see how that goes. It’s hard to mimic that in any practice. That’s why they say ‘game shape,’ it’s much different than practice shape or being fit in the gym. It’s playing hockey. You have to get back to that, and there’s only one way and that’s to play the game.”

He said Tuesday that his puck-handling abilities have returned sooner than expected.

“A couple of weeks ago I thought it was going to be tough,” Brodeur said. “Talking to my therapist, he said it was something that might take a while to come back. It’s been better and better every time I shoot the puck, every time I react. I don’t feel anything. That’s one of the things that has really surprised me. I’ve got my strength and my flexibility and now it’s pretty pain-free. When I catch pucks, it doesn’t matter if I don’t see it coming, I don’t feel much. At first, I used to feel that little pull in the elbow, now there’s nothing there and I’ve been getting some pretty hard shots to my glove side.”

Brodeur faced a series of breakaways at the end of practice, stopping nine of 10 in the first round. Among the first group of shooters were leading scorer Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, Brian Rolston and Brian Gionta. Jamie Langenbrunner hit the post, but David Clarkson used a toe drag to score.

In the second round, Brodeur allowed goals to Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador and Jay Pandolfo.

“Hopefully that’s not a message to the other teams to send the big guys,” Brodeur said with a laugh. “That’s the way it goes. Everybody’s a talented player, so it doesn’t matter if they’re not slotted among our top five shooters, they’re still skilled. I haven't had many breakaway opportunities since I’ve been back, so it was nice to get a feeling for them.”

Sutter reiterated that when Brodeur is, "ready to play, he's ready to play." He planned on further evaluating Brodeur's performance in Wednesday's practice before coming to any decision on a return date.

"This isn’t like he’s been out for two or three weeks," Sutter said. "He had a pretty serious injury, had significant surgery, and I want to make sure that when it’s the right time, it’s the right time and nothing sooner. Can that be Thursday night? Possibly. Can it be Saturday? Possibly. That’s why it was important for Marty to have some practice time."


• Brendan Shanahan returned to practice Tuesday after skipping Monday’s skate to rest. He skated with instep pads attached to his shinguards for some added protection after taking shots off his foot in the games against Boston and Tampa Bay.

White has extra protection added to the bottom of his shinguards.
Colin White and Bryce Salvador both wear similar pads, and each said that they adapted their equipment after getting one too many shots off their feet.

White first noticed Geordie Kinnear wearing the improvised pads in Albany (AHL), and asked trainers to stitch the same hard plastic onto the bottom of his shinguards. Over time, he added additional protection to the inside of his ankles.

Salvador said the pads take little getting used to.

“You get hit enough times, you look for solutions,” Salvador said. “You try to prevent injury, no one wants a broken foot.”

Mike Mottau, White’s defensive partner, does not wear any coverage over his laces.

“You get hit there every once in a while, but I never thought about putting pads there,” Mottau said.

White said a player’s style might be a factor in why some players wear the added padding and others do not.

“Motts wears his shinguards up high, I could never do that. I’d be getting hit six, seven times a game. He gets out of the way, he’s quick enough,” White said.

When told how White and Salvador came to try the pads, Shanahan shot from the hip: “Every once in a while the defensemen surprise us with their intellect.”

SCHEDULE

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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 MTL 62 41 16 5 171 135 87
2 NYI 64 41 21 2 205 179 84
3 NYR 61 38 17 6 192 152 82
4 TBL 64 38 20 6 210 171 82
5 DET 61 35 15 11 180 159 81
6 PIT 62 36 17 9 181 155 81
7 WSH 64 34 20 10 188 159 78
8 BOS 62 31 22 9 165 161 71
9 FLA 63 28 22 13 154 178 69
10 PHI 63 27 25 11 168 183 65
11 OTT 60 27 23 10 171 163 64
12 NJD 63 26 27 10 141 164 62
13 CBJ 62 26 32 4 160 196 56
14 CAR 61 24 30 7 142 162 55
15 TOR 63 25 33 5 170 193 55
16 BUF 63 19 39 5 123 212 43

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
M. Cammalleri 51 23 10 4 33
A. Henrique 56 12 20 -1 32
P. Elias 53 10 16 -13 26
S. Gomez 39 5 18 -9 23
M. Zidlicky 63 4 19 -7 23
T. Zajac 55 10 10 -4 20
S. Bernier 48 10 8 1 18
M. Ryder 44 6 12 -2 18
A. Larsson 45 2 16 3 18
M. Havlat 38 5 9 -12 14
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 23 23 6 .927 2.19
K. Kinkaid 3 4 3 .915 2.59