(SportsNetwork.com) - A strong effort in his most recent start may be the reason that Martin Brodeur is getting the start on Tuesday night for the New Jersey Devils against the Detroit Red Wings.
It could also have to do with the fact that it marks the Devils' final game before Wednesday's trade deadline.
With an uncertain future ahead of him, Brodeur will man the net for perhaps the final time in front of the home fans.
It will mark the second start in three games for the 41-year-old, but just his 30th appearance of the regular season. The veteran Brodeur has clearly become the backup to Cory Schneider and could be traded from the only franchise he is known if the right deal comes along.
Brodeur, a first-round selection by New Jersey in 1990, wasn't looking too much into getting the start other than the fact the Devils are trying to win a hockey game.
"I think it's a hockey decision at the end of the day," said the three-time Stanley Cup champion. "Regardless if I'm going to go somewhere or stay here, that's a business part of the game. I'm kind of happy to get back in the net."
If it is his last start with the Devils, Brodeur will cap a resume that has seen him win four Vezina Trophies and be selected to nine All-Star games in addition to the three championships. He has played in 1,249 games with New Jersey, winning 683 times while posting a career 2.24 goals against average and NHL-record 124 shutouts.
The Devils turn to their veteran in a big game as the Red Wings are tied with the Washington Capitals for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference with 68 points. New Jersey is three points off that pace and its next game isn't until Friday in Detroit.
After Brodeur made 18 saves to beat the New York Islanders on Saturday, Schneider yielded four goals on 22 shots in a 4-2 setback to the San Jose Sharks the following day.
Schneider was outdueled by Sharks backup goaltender Alex Stalock, who made 21 stops.
"He made some really nice scrambling saves," said Schneider. "As a goalie that's what you hope to do. That's usually the difference, one guys does and the other guy doesn't and tonight I wasn't that guy."
Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias scored for the Devils, who had won their previous two.
New Jersey played a second game in a row without both Damien Brunner (charley horse) and Bryce Salvador (bruised collarbone). They are questionable for tonight.
The Red Wings have kept pace in the conference by going 5-1-1 in their last seven games, including a 6-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. Johan Franzen netted his sixth career hat trick and Jonas Gustavsson came up with 37 saves.
Franzen scored twice during a four-goal first period, while Riley Sheahan, Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar all added goals. Niklas Kronwall posted three assists.
"(Getting points) is all that matters," Kronwall said. "It doesn't always matter how we got them. All that matters is that we get them."
The Red Wings will end a string of five straight road games tonight and will do so without veteran forward Pavel Datsyuk due to a nagging sore right knee. Datsyuk did not play the third period on Thursday and did not make the trip to New Jersey after being held out of practice on Monday.
"Can't play," Datsyuk told Detroit's website. "Issue with my knee. We're looking day-to-day, hard to stay anything."
Jimmy Howard expects to get the call for the Red Wings tonight and has split his previous two meetings with the Devils while allowing three goals on 45 shots.
Detroit has won two straight and three of its last four versus New Jersey, including a 3-1 road win on Dec. 6. Howard had to make just 10 saves and Tatar had a goal and an assist.
Schneider allowed all three goals on 21 shots.
Detroit has won two straight and three of its last four in New Jersey as well.
The Red Wings will host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday before a rematch with the visiting Devils the following night.