It’s easy to blame Ilya Kovalchuk for nearly everything that’s going wrong with the New Jersey Devils right now, who will play the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.
Yet it’s clear that New Jersey’s $100 million man isn’t the only issue in the Garden State. The Devils have been besieged by injuries so far, even beyond losing crucial scorer Zach Parise for three months (read the staggering list here). As I pointed out recently, goalie Martin Brodeur hasn’t been himself this season, putting up sub-90 save percentage performances in eight of the games he played so far. Let’s not forget that other star/highly paid players are faltering too.
(For all the horrifying numbers, click here.)
While it’s unfair to place a lot of the blame on Kovalchuk, that’s the nature of the beast and the bottom line is that the Devils need him and Brodeur to lead a charge back into playoff relevance. To underscore the fact that Kovalchuk is a leader for better or worse, Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice reports that coach John MacLean will keep him as their second alternate captain for “right now.”
“Last game I liked the way Kovy was involved,” MacLean said. “He cares deeply about the team, which is good and, hopefully, we can get the offense going with him and everybody else.”
MacLean said he did not give the A to Kovalchuk to try to motivate him.
“I feel he deserves it,” MacLean said. “He cares about his team and he gives an honest effort when he’s out there.”
Gulitti reports that Kovalchuk will skate on a line with top center Travis Zajac and captain Jamie Langenbrunner tonight, so he will get every chance to help the Devils turn things around.
The Nashville Predators hope to get back in their series now that the San Jose Sharks are visiting “Smashville.” Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars and Blues jostle for a 2-1 lead in St. Louis.
You can keep up with Game 3 of the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders (which is in progress) right here and on NBCSN.
Game 3 of Sharks – Predators is on USA Network and can be streamed via the link below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Finally, Game 3 of Stars – Blues airs on NBCSN. Keep an eye out for notes if there’s overlap with Bolts – Isles (which would bump it temporarily to NHL Network), but either way, you can stream the action below.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Jonathan Drouin‘s strong playoff play has been a big story for the Tampa Bay Lightning, but his health is in question after taking a huge hit on Tuesday.
As you can see from the video above, Drouin was shaken up by an enormous check from New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey. It’s believed that Drouin went to “The Quiet Room” to see if he suffered a concussion; PHT will pass along whatever information becomes available.
(NHL teams aren’t exactly forthcoming with this information.)
The Islanders actually ended up with a power play from the fallout, as Hickey’s hit didn’t earn a penalty. The general reaction is that it wasn’t a dirty hit, yet some might disagree with that sentiment.
Update: Drouin didn’t come out during the beginning of the third period. He did, however, return midway through the final frame.
The NHL named the three finalists for the 2016 Foundation Player Award on Tuesday: Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano, New York Islanders forward Matt Martin and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban.
The awarded is handed to “an NHL player who applies the core values of hockey — commitment, perseverance and teamwork — to enrich the lives of people in his community.”
The winner gets to hand $25K to the charity of his choice.
You know a playoff series is starting to rev up when teams can’t even peacefully share an ice surface during warm-ups.
The New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to draw a red line in the sand between each other before Game 3, with the two sides exchanging a couple bumps and mean looks.
It’s … honestly a pretty amusing spectacle.
You can watch it all in the video above. Perhaps this GIF will fuel a meme or two:
Brian Boyle downplayed the exchange(s):