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Brodeur ready to face Senators

Set to make first start since Nov. 18

Thursday, 12.9.2010 / 4:45 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Brodeur ready to face Senators
Brodeur to start in Ottawa after eight-game absence.
John MacLean ended the suspense after Thursday’s practice: Martin Brodeur will start Friday night in Ottawa.

It will be Brodeur's first appearance since Nov. 18, when he aggravated his bruised right elbow in Toronto.

He’s ready and raring to go.

“I’ve been 100 percent for a while,” Brodeur said. “Just now, with three hard practices in a row, I should have shaken off all the cobwebs that I need to shake. I’m good to go, that’s for sure.”

The team went  3-5-0 in Brodeur’s absence, despite some strong play from Johan Hedberg. Moose allowed two goals or less in six of his seven starts, though in one of those, he was pulled after giving up two on the first three shots of the game.

Brodeur had a 2.74 goals-against average, .901 save percentage and two shutouts when the elbow forced him to miss more time. He originally suffered the injury on Nov. 3 at Chicago and was unavailable for the next two games.

“It’s like riding a bike,” Brodeur said. “I think you’re anxious to get back, that’s where it’s different than playing all the time. You’re anxious, but when the game starts, it’s hockey. We’re in the middle of the season, I’ve only missed three weeks or so. I’ve been playing hockey for a good week and a half now, so it’s not a big deal.”

The Devils (8-17-2) are looking to snap a three-game losing streak and halt a six-game skid on the road. It hasn’t been easy for Brodeur to watch as the Devils have struggled.

“You’re more at peace when you’re hurt and the team’s doing well, because you always want to be a part of something good,” Brodeur said. “When you see guys struggling, you’d like to be there to try and help. It’s my team, I’ve been playing here for 16 years now and I care a lot. When the team’s not doing well, if I’m part of it, that’s one thing. But when you’re sitting on the outside, you just feel you wish you could be there.”

Brodeur was Hedberg’s backup for Monday’s 2-1 loss in Pittsburgh, and MacLean expects his return to have a big impact between the pipes.

“Marty’s a world-class goaltender, of course he’s going to make a difference,” said the coach. “He looks good in practice, I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. He’s a great goalie, so definitely he’s going to make a difference. I’m confident in his play, and then we have to play well in front of him, put some goals up there for him, also.”

Brodeur’s leadership will also provide a lift in the dressing room.

“He’s a presence on the ice and he’s a presence off the ice,” MacLean said. “Him being around the team is helpful. It’s been helpful this week for the three days of practice, and with him in Pittsburgh backing up, it’s been helpful. Hopefully, we can get something from that.”

After facing the Senators, the Devils come home to open a three-game homestand Sunday against Detroit. Brodeur feels he’d be able to handle starts on consecutive nights if called upon.

“I’m ready to go,” Brodeur said. “I’m ready like I was when I left and it was OK to do back to backs. It’s not my decision. (Coach) is going to make it. We have three days in between the next three in four nights again.”

Said MacLean: “I’m going to decide just one out of two. Let’s get through tomorrow night first and not get too far ahead.”

Volchenkov returns
Anton Volchenkov spent the first seven seasons of his NHL career in Ottawa, and will make his first return to Canada’s capital since signing with the Devils this summer.

He counts his first game and first goal among the moments he remembers most. That trip to the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals wasn’t so bad either.

He’s looking forward to going back.

“Oh yeah, it will be interesting going back to play against my old team,” he said.

Volchenkov has stayed in touch with some of his old teammates, but will put all of that on hold during Friday’s game.

“It’s fun off the ice, but it’s a game on the ice,” he said. “On the team you have friends, but hockey is hockey. There are no friends on the ice.”

Stephen Gionta and Olivier Magnan have been placed on waivers. Anssi Salmela has been assigned to Albany (AHL) for conditioning.