Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Confidence in Their Keeper

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Confidence in Their Keeper

Article excerpt

NEWARK - As Martin Brodeur continues on a slow road back from a back injury - he skated on his own Thursday for the third day in a row - the Devils will continue to ride Johan Hedberg in net.

Hedberg will start his 11th consecutive game tonight when the Devils visit Wells Fargo Center to wrap up their home-and-home series with the Philadelphia Flyers.

In Wednesday's 5-2 win over the Flyers at Prudential Center, Hedberg was as sharp and confident stopping the puck as he's been during the three weeks since Brodeur last played. He made 23 saves to follow up another 23-save effort in a 3-2 shootout win over Winnipeg on Sunday.

It was in Sunday's game -- in which he stopped all three Jets' shooters in the shootout -- that Hedberg really started to feel like his old self. He lost six in a row at one point (one in a shootout) and seven out of eight, getting pulled twice in three games.

Devils coach Pete DeBoer saw the confidence back in Hedberg's game Wednesday, though.

"I think he's getting it back," DeBoer said. "I think part of it is us doing a better job for him in front of him. He seems to be finding his rhythm again."

Hedberg isn't ready to say his confidence is all the way back to where it was during his first three starts of the season - in which he allowed just two goals on 74 shots - but he's feeling a lot better about himself and his game now.

"You never know, every game is a new game, but I feel, obviously, better after these two games than after the games where I got pulled," Hedberg said. "You try to fight your way back to feel confident out there. Although I never felt like I really dropped to the bottom, I still definitely feel better now than then."

Through the rough times, DeBoer repeatedly showed faith in Hedberg, announcing immediately after both games in which he was pulled that he would start the next game. Although DeBoer admitted after the Devils' 4-2 loss in Toronto on March 4 that he was "a little bit" worried about Hedberg's confidence, he said he never doubted that going back to him was the right move. …

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