Martin Brodeur has sprained MCL

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils starting goaltender Martin Brodeur has a sprained MCL, and according to head coach Jacques Lemaire, will miss at least the next three games.

"I can't tell [when he'll be back] right now," Lemaire told the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger on Monday. "It would depend on his shape, it would depend on how he feels when he gets on the ice, how he feels when he gets into practice and all that."

The Devils placed Brodeur on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 6, the team announced on Tuesday. New Jersey could activate him at any point, though, because he has already been out the required seven days.

Brodeur confirmed to the Star-Ledger on Sunday that he suffered a sprained MCL during the first period on Feb. 6 against the Montreal Canadiens. His injury had previously been categorized as a sprained right knee. Despite being listed as day to day, he has not played -- or practiced -- since.

"I think if I wasn't a goalie it'd be different to be able to get back and do different things," Brodeur told the newspaper. "But the positions that I have to put myself in, right now it doesn't feel quite right enough to try it. I don't want to come back and hurt it again.

"I've been working hard and rehabbing, keeping strength in my legs. I don't think it's going to be super long. I think it's a little bit like what I went through with my arm. One day it's going to be fine. I believe that's what's going to happen, but it's not there yet."

Broduer, who missed six games in 2005-06 with a sprained MCL, told the newspaper that he's "feeling better."

"We'll see what the next couple of days bring," Brodeur said. "I have no time frame for going back on the ice because I really don't know. It could be 3-4 days or it could be another week. But I don't think it's something that could be much longer."

Brodeur said he doesn't think he'll be able to play in any of the three games this week.

"I doubt it," he said. "Unless I'm able to get back on the ice, then maybe the weekend game [Saturday in Carolina] could be an option. But right now I'm not even looking at that."

The 38-year-old Brodeur is currently 13-19-2 with a 2.74 goals against average, .898 save percentage and four shutouts.

Backup netminder Johan Hedberg, who replaced Brodeur at the start of the second period in the Devils' 4-1 victory over the Canadiens, is 3-0 since Brodeur's injury.

Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.