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Hedberg expected to start Friday

Thursday, 12.30.2010 / 4:30 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Hedberg expected to start Friday
Johan Hedberg is expected to be in goal when the Devils host Atlanta on New Year’s Eve.

In what would be his first start since Dec. 6, Hedberg would face the team with which he spent the past four seasons.

“Every game for me is exciting,” Hedberg said. “As far as playing Atlanta, it’s a little bit special. It won’t change anything in my approach.”

It would be Hedberg’s second encounter against his former club. He relieved Martin Brodeur and played the final 32 minutes of a 7-1 loss in Atlanta on Dec. 18, finishing with four saves on seven shots.

This time, emotions might be less of a factor.

“I think I got most of the jitterbugs out with the last game we were down there and I can just go out and try to enjoy it,” Hedberg said.

The Devils (9-25-2) are coming off Wednesday’s hard-fought 3-1 loss to the Rangers. They complete a weekend back to back with a visit to Carolina on New Year’s Day.

The losing skid sits at six in a row, but Hedberg will do what he can to end it there.

“It would be great,” he said. “It’s going to happen sooner or later, might as well do it sooner. I think we’ve shown a lot of progress the last few games. You can tell when things are not going your way, it seems nothing’s going your way. You can’t catch a break offensively, the puck’s been bouncing of us and into our net. But we have to keep working. I think we did a lot of good things last night. We have to keep doing it night in, night out and we’re going to get rewarded.”

Jacques Lemaire said Hedberg would "probably" play.

"We've got two (goalies)," Lemaire explained. "One plays, the other one will play some games. I can't say when, but he's going to play."

Would Lemaire go to the "other" goalie for Saturday?

"Maybe," he said. "I don't know a lot, eh?"

The bright spots Wednesday were everywhere except on the scoreboard. The Devils outshot the Rangers 16-5 in the first period, 20-12 in the second and 44-26 for the game, and were backstopped with some superb work by Brodeur.

There was little he could have done differently on the game-winner, a fluky Michal Rozsival shot that found the back of the net after bouncing off Andy Greene,

“Just bad luck, a bad luck goal,” Brodeur said Thursday. “If (Rozsival) hits it harder, it might not bounce off of him that way.”

Brodeur shared some interesting thoughts on the nature of the so-called “bad break,” and explained that they can sometimes be prevented.

“I believe that bad breaks happen for a reason,” he said. “You don’t get the puck out in time, you give them an extra chance to do something, bad things will happen. If you play the game the right way, you avoid these opportunities that might be lucky, but maybe that guy never would have taken that shot if 10 seconds (earlier) the right play would have been done.”

Brodeur has started nine in a row since an eight-game absence to recover from an aggravated right elbow bruise.

“I’m welcoming the days off now,” Brodeur said. “I’ve been playing a lot and I haven’t won a lot, so I think it’s just, with back-to-back games, I’m sure, depending on how we go through the rest of the year, you’ll probably see more of that, I don’t know. It’s always their decision. I feel OK to play. It’s not a question of rest or anything. It’s just their decision.”

Brodeur figures to be back in action against the Hurricanes. He spent an extra 20-25 minutes at Thursday’s practice working on his angles with goaltending coach Chris Terreri.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” he said. “I’ve played a lot of hockey since I came back from my injury. I’m not winning a lot so it’s been really difficult. I’m just trying to work on my game, and taking days off, maybe it’s not a bad thing.”