With New Jersey Devils coach Peter DeBoer describing goaltender Martin Brodeur’s status as “sometime in between day-to-day and a month,” it does not appear that the team will get their star netminder back for this weekend’s games against the Carolina Hurricanes and Winnipeg Jets. The Devils have lost six of their seven games without Brodeur, and could find themselves out of the playoff picture by the time he does return. Not to say their season is finished at that point, but the longer Brodeur stay out the slimmer the chances of the Devils making a second-straight deep run in the playoffs becomes.
The Devils entered Saturday holding down the seventh spot in the conference standings, just one point ahead of the surging New York Rangers and two points ahead of a hungry Jets team that they will meet on Sunday. Johan Hedberg has struggled mightily in Brodeur’s absence, posting a 1-5-1 record. He finally managed to sneak out a shootout win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, but it wasn’t exactly in impressive fashion. It took late goals from Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias to send the game into extra time and the Sabres didn’t give their best effort in the shootout. It’s also important to remember that the Sabres continue to be one of the worst teams in the entire league, so barely getting by them still counts for two points but isn’t exactly worthy of an excessive celebration.
The team seems bound and determined to roll Hedberg out for every start, despite the results. Rookie Keith Kinkaid saw a few minutes of action in relief in Tuesday’s loss to the Hurricanes (12 saves on 13 shots, .923 save percentage) but was sent back down to the AHL’s Albany Devils on Wednesday. Jeff Frazee is now with the team to backup Hedberg but apparently will only see game action if things get completely out of hand. It’s incredibly clear that the Devils need Brodeur back now more than ever, and will hope he can erase the hole they have dug when he returns.