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Brodeur ready, will backup tonight

Feels good to go if called upon Saturday in Carolina

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 12:39 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Brodeur ready, will backup tonight
Martin Brodeur’s knee felt fine after today’s morning skate, and he’ll backup Johan Hedberg for tonight’s meeting with the Rangers.

“You have to warm it up pretty good, just like anything when you come back from injury,” Brodeur said. “But I was able to react and do a lot of the things I’ve been able to do in games. It makes me think I’m OK; I feel good enough to back up. If called upon [in Carolina], I’ll be ready to go.”

This will be the fifth game that Brodeur will miss since injuring his knee at Montreal on Feb. 6. He started the last meeting with the Rangers, and made 25 saves in a 3-2 win.

"They’re fun," he said of matchups against the Devils' rivals. "Through the years, I’ve played so many of them and we had an exciting one not that long ago, too, in the Garden. Definitely, you miss them, but I’ll have good seats for it."

He’s had just one practice with the team plus the morning skate, and is eager for more practice time. Still, he didn’t rule out facing the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Saturday.

“I need to practice, I need to get back in game shape a little bit, seeing the puck, moving around,” he said. “You do that in practices, not by yourself, and I only had one practice and one morning skate. I’m OK to play, but to be on top, I might need a couple more practices. Who knows? Like I said, if called upon, I’m healthy enough to get in there.”

Brodeur is 13-19-2 this season, but a stellar 8-1-1 in his last 10 starts. Healthy once again, he can only bolster the team's hot streak. New Jersey is 13-1-2 in the second half, 7-0-1 since the break.

After a brutal start, they have been playing the kind of hockey that many expected, Brodeur included.

“I thought that’s what we were going to be before the season started, but it didn’t happen,” he said. “We always have confidence with the structure, but I think to the extreme of what we’ve accomplished, it’s pretty amazing, especially for the lack of confidence that we had, the lack of offense and the way we were playing defensively, to really turn it around in every department and get it to this point.”

They have climbed into the postseason chase, and are in hot pursuit of Carolina for the final playoff spot in the East. Entering tonight’s action, the deficit is 12 points.

Depending on the outcome of the Flyers' visit to Carolina tonight, the Devils could narrow the deficit to as little as eight points with wins in these next two games.

“The way we’ve been winning it’s like playoff hockey,” Brodeur said. “Our playoffs are now, for us. It’s now, it’s been [since] a month ago. We can’t afford to lose anything.”

Brodeur gives a lot of credit to Jacques Lemaire, who has gotten his players pulling in the same direction. Just 9-22-2 when he took over, the Devils were ready to listen to Lemaire's message.

“We were in a position where we couldn’t say ‘No, we don’t want to do this,’” Brodeur said. “We were like ‘You tell us, we’ll do it.’ We were in that position that who cares, tell us what to, we’ll run six times over the building. We’ll do it. That’s the position our team was in. We embraced what he was trying to teach.”

Now they’re united by a common goal, the odds notwithstanding.

“When everyone believes in  something together, you can create good things,” Brodeur said. “I think that’s what happened here because of the situation that we were in.”

Goaltender Mike McKenna was assigned to Albany (AHL).