New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur

Martin Brodeur is close to returning from a shoulder injury. (InGoal file photo)

The Devils sent Keith Kincaid back to Albany in the American Hockey League on Monday, another sign that veteran No.1 Martin Brodeur could be back as early as Wednesday after missing more than two weeks with a bruised shoulder suffered while diving across the crease to make a blocker save.

But that does not mean, however, that New Jersey’s Hall of Fame goalie will be completely healed.

According to the NorthJersey.com blog, the 39-year-old had a pre-existing injury that he aggravated when he landed on the shoulder, and while he doesn’t expect it to affect his play, it also won’t be 100 per cent when he returns:

“I don’t think it ever will be,” Brodeur told the website’s Fire and Ice Blog, insisting it was not a torn labrum. “It’s not something that surgery would help. Even if I had it scoped (arthroscopic surgery) and they went in there and cleaned it up, it would be four months (recovery) after that.

Bryzgalov muted in Philadelphia

Bryzgalov Flyers Mask

Ilya Bryzgalov will have to let his play do the talking. (Scott Slingsby photo)

The Philadelphia Flyers are, perhaps wisely, pulling the plug on new goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.

Coming on the heels of his entertaining post-game, “I’m lost in the woods,” meltdown after a 9-8 loss in which he actually gave up fewer goals than Sergei Bobrovsky, the Flyers announced the normally chatty Russian stopper would no longer be granting interviews except for after games. Never mind the irony that his latest monologue occurred after a game, the new policy is in clear violation of the NHL rules about player access, and it still is even after the team amended it later in the day, saying Bryzgalov will no longer talk on the day before, or day of a game.

Needless to say it isn’t going over well among the Philadelphia press, especially given Bryzgalov’s status both with the team and as a headline maker, leading to a complaint with the Professional Hockey Writers Association.

It’s hard to ignore the writer’s case, but easy to understand why the Flyers went to such extremes. As InGoal wrote after Bryzgalov signed his nine-year, $51-million contract in the summer, and again after his recent ranting, the enigmatic Russian has a long history of center-stage theatrics that is not always appreciated by teammates, especially over the long haul.

Flyers’ goalie coach Jeff Reese talked Friday about Bryzgalov being “distracted” by daily media interactions (which is again ironic in its timing since Bryzgalov was doing out-of-town phone interviews earlier this season before his play went south), so it’s not surprising the team ended them. But while that might limit the chance of teammates tiring of their goalie’s routine in the press, it will be interesting to see how it affects Bryzgalov himself. Because personal experience here at InGoal says the bubbly Bryzgalov will feel less comfortable not talking then he ever did in front of a camera.

(Editor’s Note: It appears that may not be a problem after all, with reports out of Philadelphia Tuesday morning that Bryzgalov’s muzzle has been lifted except for the morning of games, which is not uncommon for NHL goaltenders.)

Nabokov misses teammates after shootout bailout

Evgeni Nabokov took some good-natured heat from his old San Jose teammates about developing a case of “Sharks flu” when he wasn’t able to play them on the weekend. That he left the prior game before a shootout was proof he didn’t “Fear the Finn.”

Nabokov bailed after overtime in Pittsburgh after playing through a lower-body injury that started in the first period, saying he “didn’t have much power” when asked why he left the shootout to backup Rick Dipietro. As for not facing the Sharks team he spent most of his career with, Nabokov, who is expected to miss a couple more games, had plenty to say to the San Jose Mercury News about his time there:

“It was probably the best 10 years of my life out there and I don’t think it will be replaceable. But we have to move on. Life is still on and all I want to do is play hockey. But that organization did nothing but the best stuff for me, the fans were absolutely awesome out there.”

Nabokov also had some interesting thoughts when told ex-teammate Ryan Clowe thought a shootout would be interesting:

“Is he still using that move that I told him? I don’t know if I would want to go to that situation because they know too many secrets on that. It would be real interesting to go into that, especially as much as we worked on that and always shared our thoughts on that with him and Pav and Patty. We always talked about situations like that.”

Speaking of Islanders goaltending …

Lost in Dipietro coming in cold was him coming back so soon from the concussion suffered through friendly fire off the mask in practice. It was good to see Dipietro’s symptoms cleared quickly, but even better to see he appeared to learn a lesson in the process, returning in a modern mask rather than the helmet-and-cage combo that led to the concussion despite repeated warnings both here at InGoal and around the league about the dangers of wearing such an outdated set up.

As for coming on in relief, Dipietro told Newsday: “I got to find out how Mariano Rivera feels.”

No wonder so many people want this guy to finally stay healthy long enough to show off his considerable talent.

One-timers from around the goaltending world (wide web):

Allen York Springfield Falcons

Allen York with the Springfield Falcons shortly before his surprise start for Columbus this week. Scott Slngsby photo.

~ Lost amid the surprise start for raw rookie Allen York in Columbus this weekend was word that would-be backup Mark Dekanich was finally back on the ice after a high ankle sprain in the preseason, welcome potential relief for a struggling team that has relied too heavily on a rebuilding Steve Mason after Dekanich (and later No.3 Curtis Sanford) got hurt.

Dekanich is expected to start with a rehab stint in the AHL to establish some game rhythm – though not likely until next week, according to the Columbus Dispatch – but embattled head coach Scott Arneil will welcome his return.”

“We introduced ourselves again today,” Arniel told the Dispatch. “Not that he was doing too much. Today he was just limited to some outside shots. We didn’t want him battling for rebounds or making an awkward move. But he’s close and getting closer. That’s a big first step.”

~ How bad have things gotten between Roberto Luongo and fans in Vancouver? So bad opponents are backing him in newspapers of rival cities. That was the case for the Flames heading into Tuesday’s game against the Canucks, with former Florida teammate Olli Jokinen and ex-Panthers goalie coach Clint Malarchuk coming to his defense in the Calgary Herald:

“I actually feel sorry for him,” Malarchuk said. “A lot of it is unjustified. The Canadian market, it’s a pressure-cooker. I don’t think there’s a lot of players who can say they’ve had that constant (criticism).”

It’s something Jokinen knows all too well in Calgary:

“You guys were roasting me pretty bad,” Jokinen told The Herald. “It’s unfair. We train in the same place in the summer, we have the same trainer. The time and effort this guy puts in to make sure he plays that 70-plus games every year … it’s pretty unfair to see. Unfair. Very unfair.”

Luongo, meanwhile, finally earned some “Loos” instead of the recent “boos” with this save against Alex Ovechkin Saturday:

~ Among the numerous storylines generated by Ilya Bryzgalov’s meltdown – both on and off the ice – this week was the expected article on overpaying for NHL goaltending, including a nice offering from Yahoo’s popular Puck Daddy blog that pointed out two of the biggest targets for public scrutiny, Bryzgalov and Roberto Luongo, also carried two of the priciest and longest crease contracts in the NHL. In both cases, the salary cap hit isn’t necessarily out of whack, but the term and total money makes it that much harder for the fan bases to swallow anything short of perfection, especially since they’re stuck with those guys for the long haul.

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3 Responses to InGoal Roundup: Brodeur nears return, not health; Bryzgalov muted

  1. DSM says:

    The reason why Bryz and Lou get the heat is because of their contracts. If these guys were making 2 mil a year, people wouldn’t do much more than murmur. People have this unstated grudge against people that make crazy dough, especially athletes.

  2. Patrick says:

    as far as I’m concerned who cares how much they make the fact is they are there they have proved that they can play on that level and all the props to them and apparent “fans” needs to back the hell off and stop with this booing crap. personally i would love to see Lou take a trade have Van go back to the gutter and Lou go and win a cup with another team ala Roy style

  3. Dan says:

    I think that the biggest part of the Luongo issue is that he’s been so overrated for so long. Now that he has firmly established this track record of slow starts and poor playoff performances, the fan’s backlash is finally getting to him.

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