Martin Brodeur will return Tuesday for Devils-Rangers. (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Martin Brodeur was slated to return to the ice on Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes after missing 11 games with a pinched nerve in his neck, but the veteran goalie said he will backup Johan Hedberg Tuesday night when the New Jersey Devils host the New York Rangers, according to NHL.com.
The 40-year-old goalie said he will likely start in the net on Thursday. He hasn't played since a 3-2 Devils win against the Washington Capitals on Feb. 21 but said Tuesday after his second consecutive day of practicing that he's been given the green light to play in a game and is looking forward to being back on the ice:
"That's the plan now … I've been given the OK and that's the way we're going now. It's been fun the last two days being in the room and knowing what's going on a little bit. When you're injured, you're always on the side doing your own thing, so it's nice to be back."
The pinched nerve in his neck/upper back had caused a numbing sensation in his shoulder and arms. Brodeur said surgery had been considered but it was more of a "last resort" type of option because he would've been out for approximately two months.
"They did MRI's and they saw something was blocking the nerve root and could have been anything. It's something that sometimes takes up to two or three months to heal, but everyone is different. They could do surgery if it didn't get any better, but then you can't play for eight or nine weeks so that wasn't an option. Not that they thought about doing it, but it was a last resort type of tying if in three months it wasn't resolved."
Brodeur backing up Hedberg on Tuesday will mark the first time in more than two years that he hasn't started against the Atlantic Division rival Rangers. The last time he was a backup against New York was Feb. 18, 2011 when he was rehabbing a sprained MCL in his right knee.
To make room for Brodeur now that he's been activated off the injured reserve, New Jersey sent Jeff Frazee to the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League.