Maple Leafs-Devils Preview
Following a disappointing road trip, the New Jersey Devils are likely excited about what's waiting for them at home.
Brodeur returned to practice Monday for New Jersey (4-4-1) after he was sidelined for more than two weeks with a bruised right shoulder.
The 39-year-old was hurt Oct. 13 making a diving stop against Los Angeles in the first period. He finished the period and was replaced by Johan Hedberg, who has gone 2-3-1 with a 2.61 goals-against average and a shutout during Brodeur's absence.
Although Brodeur reported no problems following Monday's practice, the four-time Vezina Trophy winner did admit to being more conscious about the injury.
"I feel pretty good," he told the Devils' official website. "I'm happy about the way it went.
"I don't feel any limitation or anything, but mentally knowing I hurt my shoulder, I'm hesitant to do certain things."
Despite getting over the mental aspect, the NHL's all-time leader in wins and shutouts deemed himself ready to play after practice Tuesday.
"I felt real good today and if they need me tomorrow, I'll be ready," said Brodeur, who went 1-2-0 with a 3.00 GAA last season against the Maple Leafs. "It's the hardest I've gone as far as reaction and competing and I was fine."
Coach Peter DeBoer initially said he'd leave that decision up to Brodeur. On Tuesday, however, he said the team would "have to get medical clearance first," though he's certainly hoping that comes soon considering the boost Brodeur should provide.
"He's probably the best goalkeeper of all time," DeBoer said. "He would give us a lift on the ice and in the dressing room."
DeBoer is quick to point out, though, that Brodeur wouldn't give much help to an offense that has the second-fewest goals in the league (20) and has converted only 10.3 percent of its power-play chances (3 for 29).
"It's nice to have him back," DeBoer said, "but he can't score goals for us or play the point in the power play."
The Devils haven't played since Saturday's 3-1 loss in Dallas, the conclusion of a 1-3-0 road trip. New Jersey was the victim of a unlucky bounce against the Stars, as Dallas' tiebreaking goal with 8:26 remaining ricocheted off the skate of Devils defenseman Mark Fayne and past Hedberg.
"I like what we're doing, I don't like the results right now," DeBoer said. "I have to stick with the belief that if we keep doing the right things, we're going to get rewarded for it."
Toronto (7-3-1), meanwhile, has typically been getting the results DeBoer covets.
The Maple Leafs had won two in row before a 3-2 loss to Ottawa on Sunday. Clarke MacArthur scored both goals for Toronto, which has yet to lose consecutive games.
"Our attitude is not to lose two games in a row and what's happened, happened,'' coach Ron Wilson said. "We'll be focused on the next game."
Phil Kessel, who leads the Leafs with 10 goals and 18 assists, didn't record a point Sunday for just the second time in 11 games. He had two goals and an assist as Toronto went 2-1-1 against the Devils last season.
Jonas Gustavsson, who has gone 2-2-0 with a 3.03 GAA in starting the last four games for Toronto, posted a 1.00 GAA in winning his two starts against New Jersey in 2010-11.