New Jersey Devils: Missing Martin Brodeur
By Kristin Tullo (@K_Tullo)
It’s almost an ironic position for the Devils to be in.
Projected to miss the playoffs because of their aging goaltender, the Devils went from two points out of first place with their Hall of Fame goaltender, Martin Brodeur, to being two points out of a playoff spot because of his absence.
On the verge of making his debut back between the pipes after being reactivated on Tuesday from the IR, Brodeur will test the durability of an ailing back injury when he attempts to carry his team back to where they were after his last game on February 21st when he earned his eighth win of the season. Digging themselves a hole with Johan Hedberg filling in, the Devils have earned just eight points in their last 13-games, propelling them to ninth place and tying for points with four other teams that all have a game at hand on New Jersey.
It hasn’t been just the goal tending that has caused the Devils to find them where they are, but the spark they may be used to getting from Brodeur has certainly not been there. It’s not just his flashy glove saves or his ability to bicycle kick a puck out of the crease while laying flat on his stomach, something nobody should be capable of, but it’s his puck handling that the Devils have missed too. A puck played behind the net for Brodeur may turn into a breakout pass for the offense, but for Hedberg playing a puck has turned into more of a defensive scramble, often ending up in the back of his own net.
If there is a panic button on the desk of Lou Lamoriello, it’s not quite ready to be pressed despite the recent collapse which has included a six-game losing streak. The absence of Brodeur along with Dainus Zubrus could be the reason Lamoriello has been sitting on his hands, not rushing to make a deal before the April 3rd trade deadline. A team that has struggled on all ends of the ice, the Brodeur Excuse has been one that many have been comfortable leaning on. After all, there’s a reason Johan Hedberg has made a career as a backup and his 13 game stretch has been painted a clear picture as to why.But how much longer can the Devils wait for the pivotal play that makes them go from the 9th place team to a playoff contender, with the quickness it took them to fall out of that position?
Whenever it is that Martin Brodeur gets back between the pipes for New Jersey, it will be a moment many Devils’ fans may hold their breath. If he doesn’t return as the 8-2-3 goalie that left them in February, there may not be many more strings left to grasp at.
The Devils are set to practice this afternoon at 1:45pm at the AmeriHealth Pavillion before playing the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in what will be seen as another “must win” game for New Jersey.