The New Jersey Devils should have netminder Martin Brodeur back in the fold Wednesday - just in time to face the NHL’s leading scorer. Phil Kessel brings his offensive exploits to the Garden State as he leads the Toronto Maple Leafs against Brodeur and the Devils. New Jersey should be buoyed by the return of Brodeur, who is practising with the club after missing all but four periods this season with a shoulder injury. The Devils haven’t announced whether Brodeur or backup Johan Hedberg, who made every start in Brodeur’s absence, will tend the net Wednesday. Toronto has its own goaltending situation to sort out, with incumbent James Reimer off of injury reserve as he deals with concussion-type symptoms. The Maple Leafs haven’t said whether he or Jonas Gustavsson will play.
TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RIS, MSG+
ABOUT THE MAPLE LEAFS (7-3-1): Toronto’s top line needs little introduction, with the Kessel-Joffrey Lupul-Tim Connolly trio looking like it’s in midseason form. But it was the second line that shone in Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. Clarke MacArthur scored both goals for Toronto and is starting to excel alongside Nikolai Kulemin and Mikhail Grabovski - arguably Toronto’s most consistent unit a season ago. The Maple Leafs have struggled away from Toronto, posting a pedestrian 2-3-0 road mark to date.
ABOUT THE DEVILS (4-4-1): It isn’t quite the doom-and-gloom start New Jersey endured last season, but the club would like to begin climbing up the Eastern Conference standings as soon as possible. Goal scoring is an annual concern with the Devils, and 2011-12 is no exception in the early going as New Jersey has managed just 20 goals through the first nine games. One saving grace: The club is a tidy 2-1-1 in four home games so far.
1. Brodeur admits he’s still a little tentative. “I don’t feel any limitation or anything, but mentally knowing I hurt my shoulder, I’m hesitant to do certain things,” he told the team’s website.
2. The teams split four head-to-head meetings a season ago, with the Devils prevailing in the final two contests.
PREDICTION: Maple Leafs 4, Devils 2. The way Toronto’s offense is rolling at the moment - particularly its top two lines - it won’t matter who New Jersey puts in net Wednesday night.
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