The New Jersey Devils made their big trade for Ilya Kovalchuk almost specifically for his offensive firepower for the playoffs. Yet through three games, he has just one goal (an empty-netter), and six shots and his line is causing nothing but frustration for the Devils fans and their coach.
Rich Chere of the The Star-Ledger talked with Devils coach Jacques Lemaire, who said this about the line:
“I look at the whole line. The whole line didn’t get much. They
didn’t get a lot of shots or create a lot,” Lemaire answered. “They
worked more individually at times. Probably because they’re not getting
any points and they want to get points. It’s not the proper way to work.
“We always say your top players have to be the best players on the
ice. That’s how it’s going to be for the team that will win.”
Captain Jamie Langenbrunner, who has had a very frustrating past month or so himself, defending Kovalchuk and blamed himself for not giving Kovalchuk the chance to be the “finisher” he’s known to be. Langenbrunner has just one assist and seven shots and has been completely invisible for the Devils; not exactly the effort and production you need from your captain.
The Devils should have been wary. Even though it’s just a small sample size, Kovalchuk had just two points in four games in his previous playoff experience, and he’s not exactly used to playing in the pressure cooker atmosphere that comes with playing in the playoffs.