If there’s someone on the Devils roster the Kings are going to want to keep a watchful eye on it’s Ilya Kovalchuk. Kovalchuk is the top point scorer in the postseason and he’s been a monster all playoffs long for New Jersey. He’s also the guy the Kings tried to sign two summers ago as a free agent.
Kings captain Dustin Brown tells Rich Hammond of L.A. Kings Insider Kovalchuk is the sum of all their fears wrapped up in one player.
“Well, he’s big, he’s strong and he’s fast. With Kovalchuk, with his skill level and his skill set, I think it’s important for guys just to get in his way. He’s one of those players who, if you give him the time and space and the open ice to gather up his speed, he’s pretty hard to defend,” Brown said.
“You have to try to slow him down, and that’s a matter of guys stepping in front of him. It sounds repetitive, but it’s the same thing against every team. You’ve got to make it hard on their top players, because if you don’t, they’ll make you pay, maybe even more so with his skill set. It’s probably one of the best individual skill sets we have faced in the playoffs.”
That’s not tire-pumping, that’s real complimentary stuff from Brown. The closest the Kings had to facing an offensive stud like Kovalchuk in the playoffs were the Sedin twins in the first round. St. Louis didn’t have a go-to dominant force and Phoenix’s offense cooled off big in the playoffs.
Kovalchuk along with Zach Parise have the potential to crush the Kings’ Stanley Cup dreams and they’ll have their hands full trying to contain them all.