New Jersey (28-9-1) at Chicago (26-10-3)

Cloudy Currently: Chicago, IL
Temp: 57° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Thu Dec 31, 2009
  • TV: MSG+2, CSCH
Preview | Box Score | Recap

While there’s still a question about who will start in goal for Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics, Martin Brodeur(notes) continues to make a strong push for that spot.

Brodeur and the Eastern Conference-leading New Jersey Devils look to continue their strong play Thursday night when they face a Chicago Blackhawks team that’s been virtually unbeatable at home over the last two months.

Hours before making 32 saves and posting his fourth shutout of the season in Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over Pittsburgh, the 37-year-old Brodeur was selected to Team Canada for the fourth time.

Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo(notes) and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury(notes) are Team Canada’s other goaltenders.

“I go about my business the same way,” Brodeur told the Devils’ official Web site when asked if there’s added pressure to perform to become the Olympic starter. “Especially as a goalie, you can’t do anything. People know what you’re able to do. You want to play well. You want to have decent stats so they can make sure you’re fine tuned for it.”

If statistics are the determining factor, Brodeur should be a no-brainer to start for his home country. The all-time leader in wins and games played extended his league record with his 105th shutout Wednesday.

“He’s a very special player and it seems the bigger the game, the more he rises up big and tonight was no exception,” Jamie Langenbrunner(notes) said after the Devils won for the 14th time in 17 games. “I think he was excited for this game, you could see he was focused and ready to go. For us as a team, that’s always a great feeling.”

While Brodeur has helped New Jersey (28-9-1) allow an Eastern Conference-low 80 goals, Chicago’s combination of Cristobal Huet(notes) and rookie Antti Niemi(notes) have anchored the Central Division-leading Blackhawks (26-10-3) and their league-best 2.08 goals allowed per game.

Huet, though, was pulled after giving up four goals on 10 shots as Chicago’s three-game winning streak was snapped Tuesday, 5-4 at Dallas.

“I had to do something,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “They were going in too easy. It was an easy call.”

New Jersey is a NHL-best 13-3-1 on the road, but Chicago returns to the United Center, where it is 14-2-0 since Oct. 21. The Blackhawks are allowing 1.9 goals per game during that stretch.

Defensemen Duncan Keith(notes) and Brent Seabrook(notes) have played a major role in this effort. The two, along with captain Jonathan Toews(notes), will also represent Canada at the Vancouver Games.

“I don’t think the three of us were a 100 percent sure until we heard our names this morning or we got the phone call,” Toews said. “You know, we heard a lot of talk and people gossip and gave their own opinion about who they think is going to be on the team, but until you hear your name mentioned …”

Devils center Patrik Elias(notes) was named captain of the Czech Olympic team on Wednesday.

Blackhawks leading scorer

Patrick Kane(notes), the Blackhawks’ leader with 17 goals and 44 points, will try to find the back of the net in his career-high sixth consecutive game. He has seven goals and three assists during this stretch.

Kane also will find out Friday if he will selected for Team USA.

In the teams’ last matchup, Seabrook scored the game-winner and added an assist as the host Blackhawks won 3-2 in overtime on March 27. It was Chicago’s first victory over the Devils since 1998.

Brodeur made 39 saves as he lost for only the third time in 15 career starts against the Blackhawks.

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Thursday, Dec 31