Ilya Kovalchuk continues to insist that he’s healthy


After a slightly under-the-radar (and sterling) bounce-back regular season, there’s a general feeling that something isn’t quite right with New Jersey Devils star Ilya Kovalchuk. Some believe that he’s fighting through a groin injury. Others, such as Devils beat reporter Tom Gulitti, hypothesize that it’s a “lower-back issue,” but Kovalchuk’s response to questions about his health was as terse as ever.

Kovalchuk was in the medical room for a while after the game and walked slowly through the locker room to go get dressed before returning to talk to the media.

When asked (for like the 20th time) if he is healthy, Kovalchuk replied, “Yeah” and then walked away.

To some, Kovalchuk’s zero shots on goal in Game 1 ranks as a red flag. It’s not like he hasn’t been firing away in the playoffs, however – he had 25 in seven games against the Florida Panthers – but the Devils have to hope that he’ll send more rubber at the net.

Sure, he collected an assist tonight, but his dangerous shot is what makes him a $100 million man. Without that, he might become a lot like Rob Gronkowski in the Super Bowl: a well-paid decoy.

Kovalchuk might not come out and admit that he’s hurt, but if the Flyers sniff that out, he’ll become that much less effective – whether he’s a decoy or not.

Lucic: If I wanted to hurt Couture, ‘I would have hurt him’


Last night in Los Angeles, Kings forward Milan Lucic received a match penalty after skating the entire width of the ice to give San Jose’s Logan Couture a two-hand shove to the face.

Lucic didn’t hurt Couture, who had caught Lucic with an open-ice hit that Lucic didn’t like. Couture’s smiling, mocking face was good evidence that the Sharks’ forward was going to be OK.

This morning, Lucic was still in disbelief that he was penalized so harshly.

“I didn’t cross any line,” Lucic said, per Rich Hammond of the O.C. Register. “Believe me, if my intentions were to hurt him, I would have hurt him.”

While Lucic knew he deserved a penalty, he said after the game that he didn’t “know why it was called a match penalty.” His coach, Darryl Sutter, agreed, calling it “a borderline even roughing penalty.”

And though former NHL referee Kerry Fraser believes a match penalty was indeed warranted, Lucic said this morning that he hasn’t heard from the NHL about any possible supplemental discipline.

Nor for that matter has Dustin Brown, after his high hit on Couture in the first period.

In conclusion, it’s good to have hockey back.

Related: Sutter says Kings weren’t ‘interested’ in checking the Sharks

Torres apologizes to Silfverberg and Sharks


A statement from Raffi Torres:

“I accept the 41-game suspension handed down to me by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. I worked extremely hard over the last two years following reconstructive knee surgery to resume my NHL career, and this is the last thing I wanted to happen. I am disappointed I have put myself in a position to be suspended again. I sincerely apologize to Jakob for the hit that led to this suspension, and I’m extremely thankful that he wasn’t seriously injured as a result of the play. I also want to apologize to my Sharks teammates and the organization.”

A statement from San Jose GM Doug Wilson:

“The Sharks organization fully supports the NHL’s supplementary discipline decision regarding Raffi. While we do not believe there was any malicious intent, this type of hit is unacceptable and has no place in our game. There is a difference between playing hard and crossing the line and there is no doubt, in this instance, Raffi crossed that line. We’re very thankful that Jakob was not seriously injured as a result of this play.”

Silfverberg says he expects to play Saturday when the Ducks open their regular season Saturday in San Jose.