While he insists he has no preference which team — New York or Washington — advances to the Eastern Conference finals, Ilya Kovalchuk recognizes a matchup with Alex Ovechkin would be pretty cool.
“It doesn’t really matter who we’re going to play against, but for sure it would be something nice,” the Devils forward told NorthJersey.com. “We’re both Russians. We’re pretty much the same age and if they’re going to win it will be his first time on the conference finals too.
“So, I’m pretty sure it will be special for both of us.”
Kovalchuk and Ovechkin have never faced each other in the playoffs, but are quite familiar with each other. They’ve played internationally for Russia at both the Olympics and World Hockey Championships — winning gold together in 2008 — and it was Kovalchuk that famously brokered the Ovechkin-Evgeni Malkin reconcilliation back in 2009:
From The Handshake to The Gatorade Squirt, the Ovechkin-Malkin kiss-and-make-up melodrama is easily the top story of the All Star weekend. Well, one thing you should probably know is who was behind the truce. It was none other than Ilya Kovalchuk, the noble southern gentleman and the upright family man that he is.
Friday night, during the dinner with other fellow All Stars, Kovalchuk got the two of them together and proposed to finalize the peace talks (which began earlier that day with the handshaking incident) and make it all official.
Needless to say things won’t be as peaceful should Kovalchuk and Ovechkin cross paths this time around.
“It will be the conference finals,” he explained. “I’m pretty sure everybody will be pumped up and ready to go.”