Everybody wondered if the loss of Zach Parise would sting the offense, if an Eastern Conference championship hangover would linger throughout the better part of the winter, and, of course, if the 40-year-old arms and legs of Martin Brodeur would hold up.In the infant stages of the new season, New Jersey discovered it could rely on timely scoring and the future first-ballot Hall of Fame netminder playing as sharp as ever. Those are good things.
But what happens when coach Pete DeBoer is forced to rest Brodeur? With the team’s schedule being spread out so far, the Devils hadn’t needed to call upon Johan Hedberg, but figured he’d play a crucial role on the team with 10 sets of back-to-back games still ahead.
Based on his performance last night, that’s also a good thing.
Despite falling to the Boston Bruins, 2-1, in a shootout at the TD Garden, Hedberg was sensational. He strippled the Eastern Conference’s hottest club of any offensive rhythm until Nathan Horton blasted a shot past his reach with just over four minutes remaining in the third period to knot the score at 1-1.
Through a rigorous overtime and five rounds of a shootout, Hedberg looked the part of a player who can really help the Devils win, and win a lot, with or without Brodeur. Sure, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand wrapped up an escape victory and ran Boston’s point total to a whopping 11 thus far, but Hedberg displayed exactly what the Devils needed to see.