NEWARK, N.J. -- Already ensnared in their worst start since 1983-84, the New Jersey Devils got worse news Friday morning when starting netminder Martin Brodeur pronounced himself not healthy enough for Friday's game against the New York Rangers due to an elbow injury.
"I'm fine. Just not ready to play today. I thought I was going to be OK but a little pain on the elbow," Brodeur said.
Brodeur participated in the morning skate Friday expecting to play and hoping to get the Devils their first home victory of the season (they are 0-4-1). But instead Brodeur will rest and back-up Johan Hedberg will get the start. It will be Hedberg's second start of the season.
"The first couple of shots, even shooting the puck was fine and I just swatted a puck out, like just a rebound, and kind of just felt a sharp pain and I said, 'ah, it's not worth it,'" Brodeur said.
The netminder said it wasn't an issue of being able to grip the stick but the pain that comes from manipulating the stick.
"It's the elbow. I've got plenty of strength on my hand, on my fingers, everything's fine, the wrist," he said. "It's just extending my arm with having a weight at the end. It's just too much of a sharp pain for me on the elbow."
The Devils, off to a 4-9-1 start, play Buffalo on Wednesday and Edmonton two days later to close out this current three-game homestand.
Brodeur is hopeful the days off between Friday's game and the Buffalo game will allow the pain to subside.
But there are no guarantees.
"If that sharp pains doesn't go away there's no way for me to play," he said. "But I believe it's going to go away. It got better from the first time I got hit to today. It's not something that I'm going to hurt worse. It's not like a pull or anything. It's just a bruise. Whenever I'm going to be able to deal with the pain I'll be back. Hopefully the four days of rest will help that out."
The Devils netminder is 3-8-1 with a 2.70 GAA and .904 save percentage.
Head coach John MacLean said he has confidence Hedberg, who was shelled in his only start of the season against Buffalo, will get the job done for a Devils team that has not won twice in a row this season.
"He'll be ready to go. He came in last game and played well and we look for him to do the same thing this evening," MacLean said.
Jeff Frazee was called up from Albany of the AHL and will serve as Hedberg's backup.
In other news from the morning skate MacLean announced defenseman Anton Volchenkov, who has missed the last 12 games with a neck injury, will return to the lineup Friday night for the Devils.
Rangers head coach John Tortorella said Ryan Callahan would not play after a fall into the boards in Thursday's loss to Philadelphia.
Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.