When Martin Brodeur comes back from injury, he really comes back from injury.
Since going down with soreness in his back just over three weeks ago, the New Jersey Devils had struggled mightily without their franchise goaltender between the pipes. They want from serious contender in the Eastern Conference to a bubble team that may not even make it into the postseason.
Brodeur’s absence affected their ability to keep the puck out of the net, as well as put it in the opposing teams net, as they managed more than two goals in only three of their last nine games prior to his return on Thursday. They only won those three games, while dropping the other six.
The return of Brodeur on Thursday seemed to provide the spark that the Devils had been searching for since he went down. The Devils trounced the Carolina Hurricanes by a 4-1 count. Brodeur was credited with not only 17 saves in the game, but a goal of his own as well.
There’s never been any question of Brodeur’s importance to this hockey team, even if we’ve seen his game decline as he’s gotten older. Regardless of performance, he’s the kind of player that is absolutely a key to this team, simply by being in the lineup.
He’s still a capable performer, but it’s just a different feeling when Brodeur is between the pipes. As a tested veteran and a terrific puck handler, the play of the Devils is noticeably better when he’s in the lineup. We saw a bit of that on Thursday. Can he continue to be the spark the Devils need?
They better hope so. With just 17 games left, and several teams breathing down their necks in the playoff race in the Eastern Conference, the Devils need to put together a nice little streak of consistency here. Getting Martin Brodeur back should help them to achieve that.