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The Moose Is On The Loose

There were a ton of positives for the Devils last week, the most important winning three of their four games.

Johan Hedberg continued his strong play Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers, stopping 40 shots to backstop the Devils to a 2-1 shoootout win. Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Another important positive emerged during the week – the solid play of Johan Hedberg, who backstopped the Devils to their three wins and should earn the team’s first star of the week.

In his four starts this week, Hedberg allowed four goals on 117 shots, good for a .966 save percentage. He never allowed more than one goal in a game, and stoned four of five shooters in two shootout victories. Against Philadelphia and Washington – the two best offenses in the league – Hedberg allowed only one goal in 71 shots against. Those are great numbers for any goalie, but especially one who struggled just a week earlier.

Before this week, Hedberg struggled in relief of Martin Brodeur. In six appearances, Hedberg allowed 17 goals on 117 shots, recording only a .855 save percentage. The tipping point came on November 20, when minor league call-up Mike McKenna started over Hedberg. It seemed to finally wake up the former starter, and he responded with his best play yet.

Teammates and coaches credit Hedberg with the past week’s success.

“He’s the reason why we’ve been in these games,” Travis Zajac said to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record.

“He’s played very well,” Devils coach John MacLean said to Gulitti. “He’s playing very confident. He’s playing big in the net and is square to the puck.”

For all intents and purposes, the Moose is on the loose for the Devils. Hedberg seems to be a streaky goaltender, and right now he’s on a hot streak. With Brodeur injured and suffering through a subpar start to the season, Hedberg’s been a big lift to New Jersey. He’s made some great saves, and while the defense is improving, Hedberg’s helped to keep the Devils in several of their games.

There’s a good chance Brodeur will man the pipes for the Devils game against Montreal on Thursday night. But until then, the Moose will continue to run loose in New Jersey. And fans will great him with the familiar “Moooooooose” call from the stands.

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