Montreal Canadiens v New Jersey Devils

Martin Brodeur says he’s ready to play, but is New Jersey ready to play him?

New Jersey Devils G Martin Brodeur spoke to the media today about coming off IR and the state of his injured shoulder. According to Tom Gulitti of NorthJersey.com, Brodeur told Devils goalie coach Chris Terreri that “if they need me tomorrow, I’ll be okay to play.”

Which leaves the decision of when to get Brodeur back into action with head coach Peter DeBoer. (The future Hall-of-Famer has been out since Oct. 13 and played just 80 minutes all told this season.)

So, when should Marty play?

At first glance, the answer is right away — 38-year-old backup Johan Hedberg has started seven consecutive games. He began strongly with two straight wins, but has fallen back to earth lately by going 1-3-1 over his last five while allowing seven goals in his last two outings.

Yet when asked if Brodeur would play Wednesday in Toronto, DeBoer was non-committal. “He’ll make that call,” DeBoer said. “This guy knows his body better than anybody. There’s nothing that I can look at out there and decide what he knows. He knows his body. We just don’t want to rush him to get in there.”

While it’s probably true the organization doesn’t want to rush Brodeur back, you have to wonder about what Rich Chere of the New Jersey Star-Ledger wrote this week. Chere posed the question — “Will Johan Hedberg split workload when Martin Brodeur returns?” — an always uncomfortable topic in New Jersey. Brodeur’s a living legend and one of the greatest to ever play the position; asking if he should be splitting time with a career journeyman can be dicey.

But Hedberg’s shown he can be a viable option in goal. In addition to his stellar work this year (4-3-1, .924 GAA, 2.28 save percentage), he was equally impressive last year, going 15-12-2 (.912, 2.38) while Brodeur missed time with elbow and knee injuries.

We’re also at a time where coaches are apt to ride hot hands in net. Davis Payne has used Brian Elliott extensively in St. Louis and Guy Boucher has turned to Mathieu Garon in Tampa, and both have been rewarded in the win column.

Throw in the fact New Jersey wants back in the playoffs after missing last season, and you have a team where playing time might be dictated by performance — not by reputation.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.