Ilya Kovalchuk’s never had issues putting shots on goal.
A notorious volume shooter, he led the Devils in shots on goal this season with 310, finishing third overall in the NHL behind Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin and James Neal.
This makes his performance in Sunday’s overtime loss to Philadelphia all the more shocking.
Despite over 20 minutes of ice time, Kovalchuk recorded zero shots on goal. It was just his third shot-less game of the season — the other two occurred in October and November — and a pretty stunning development given he averaged over four a game in the opening round against Florida.
“It’s a tough one, but overall you’ve got ups and downs,” Kovalchuk told NorthJersey.com. “So, I’ve got to see what I can do better and be better next game.”
In Kovalchuk’s defense, he appears to be playing through some sort of injury (believed to be a lower-back issue) that’s sapped him of his trademark explosiveness.
More, from NorthJersey.com:
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 if he is healthy, Kovalchuk replied, “Yeah” and then walked away.
This isn’t the first time Kovalchuk’s been questioned about playing through injury. Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger wrote about it back on Apr. 21 after New Jersey lost 3-2 in Game 5 against Florida, a game in which Kovalchuk went pointless with a minus-2 rating.
The Rangers are getting ready for their second straight matinee game on Saturday, but head coach Alain Vigneault wasn’t done addressing yesterday’s loss to the Bruins.
After Friday’s game, Bruins coach Claude Julien wasn’t pleased with Henrik Lundqvist‘s “acting” that led to a goalie interference penalty being called on forward Brad Marchand (above) and he let everyone know it in his postgame press conference.
On Saturday, it was Alain Vigneault’s turn to lash out.
“Well, (the Rangers public relations staff) filled me in a little bit on what was said after the game,” Vigneault said via the New York Daily News. “I mean it’s a little disappointing. Obviously everybody saw the knee to the head. The comments on Hank were very inappropriate. The way Hank conducts himself, on the ice, away from the rink, off the ice, the example that he sets. Who would you rather have as a son, Henrik Lundqvist or Brad Marchand? For him to say things like that about Hank, totally wrong, and probably Claude is getting a little older and needs to check his eyesight.”
The Rangers will take on the Flyers at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Dubinsky to have hearing for cross-check on Crosby
As you can see in the above video, Dubinsky delivers a two-handed cross-check to Crosby’s neck, so the fact that he’s getting a hearing is no surprise.
“There’s no secret. I try to play him as hard as I can,” said Dubinsky. “That being said, I don’t try and do anything dirty. I felt like my stick ride up his back a little bit. He’s kind of bent over there in front. But again, that’s not the type of player I am. I’m going to play hard, but try and play fair and play in between the whistle.”
Crosby isn’t willing to give Dubinsky the benefit of the doubt.
#Pens Crosby on Dubinsky hit: I'm OK. I'm not surprised. If I was going to get one of those shots, it was going to be from him -SK
It looks like the Canadiens will be without star goaltender Carey Price for the next month, per RDS.
“We still don’t know what the nature of the injury is, but we’re convinced it’s his right knee,” hockey analyst François Gagnon said on a french television show on Friday. “The Canadiens are preparing for him to be out for more than a week. They’re preparing for him to be out for a month.”
Price missed nine games with a lower-body injury between Oct. 30 and Nov. 19.
The 28-year-old won all three of his starts since returning, but he was forced from Wednesday’s game against the Rangers leading some to believe he came back too soon.
After Friday’s win over the Devils, Michel Therrien denied the validity of the report.
Michel Therrien (Translated from French) on report that Price likely out for a month with right-knee injury: pic.twitter.com/bEGnQf6ekT