Elias: Kovalchuk missing start of Devils camp would be a big deal


The potential for drama in the Ilya Kovalchuk situation continues to climb.

While every other New Jersey Devils player gave the Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti a diplomatic answer regarding Kovalchuk possibly missing the beginning of training camp for the KHL All-Star Game, Patrik Elias said it’s a big deal.

“It is,” Elias said. “We’re all supposed to report on Sunday, right?”

Before you imagine Roman Hamrlik in the Washington Capitals locker room-type awkwardness, Elias does provide a caveat.

“If they gave him permission, that’s fine,” Elias said.

That’s where it gets a little funky.

Devils GM Lou Lamoriello hasn’t addressed the Kovalchuk issue specifically, but Gulitti indicates that the team expects Kovalchuk to be at camp on Sunday.

As for Kovalchuk returning to New Jersey, Lamoriello said his feelings were, “No different on any of the statements I’ve made,” which is that he has “no reason” to believe Kovalchuk won’t be in New Jersey for the start of camp.

Should the Devils actually expect him to show up?

Backup goalie Johan Hedberg has been texting with Kovalchuk and provided a rather interesting perspective on why the sniper might stay in the KHL.

“I see plenty of reasons, really. I think this goes back to more a moral thing too. I don’t know if I want to go there,” Hedberg said.

(Hedberg declined to elaborate on what he meant by “moral thing,” while Gulitti guesses it’s a reference to the lockout.)

” But I hope and I think he’s going to be with us,” Hedberg said.

Considering all the talk about how much Kovalchuk wants to finish the season overseas, one wouldn’t guarantee his return, though.

Video: Mike Fisher ends Nashville’s nasty goal drought

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No, the Nashville Predators did not forget how to score goals … or at least they were lifted from that amnesia on Wednesday.

Mike Fisher lifted the curse 13:52 into the first period of tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres. You can watch that rare beast in the video above.

They had been shut out for three straight games and pretty close to four in pure game time.

On this subject, PHT’s Jason Brough asked Predators GM David Poile if he was considering moving a defenseman to improve in another area earlier today.

Struggling Sabre Tyler Ennis out with upper-body injury

Tyler Ennis, James Wisniewski
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Tyler Ennis can probably relate with the Buffalo Sabres’ opponent on Wednesday, as he’s struggling almost as much as the Nashville Predators.

Perhaps some of that has to do with health?

Whether that’s the case or not, Ennis is out for the Sabres tonight, as the team announced that he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.

The Buffalo News discussed Ennis’ struggles in this article.

“I’d say he’s pressing too much. You can’t make those plays in every situation and in every point you touch the puck,” Dan Bylsma said to the Buffalo News. “ … He’s just got to simplify his game. He is a special player who can make those plays, but he can’t be trying to do it every time he touches the puck.”

He’ll need to wait a while to start getting things together, anyway.

WATCH LIVE: Wednesday Night Rivalry (Flyers-Islanders; Blackhawks-Sharks)

Ryan White, Matt Martin
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You can check out tonight’s Wednesday Night Rivalry doubleheader on NBCSN, and you can also stream them online.

Here are the handy links for the two contests.

First, the New York Islanders host the Philadelphia Flyers.


After that, the Chicago Blackhawks visit the San Jose Sharks.


Braun out with upper-body injury; Zubrus to make Sharks debut

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The San Jose Sharks will be missing a top-4 defenseman tonight when they host the defending champs from Chicago.

Justin Braun has an upper-body injury. His status is considered day-to-day.

“Brauny has been one of our unsung heroes here through the first quarter of the season,” coach Peter DeBoer told CSN Bay Area. “He’s played some outstanding hockey. So, we’re going to miss him, but it’s a great opportunity for Mueller and Tennyson and one of these guys to establish themselves. It’s a great opportunity for us to reward Dillon for how well he’s played.”

Against the Blackhawks, Brenden Dillon will take Braun’s spot on the top pairing alongside Marc-Edouard Vlasic; Paul Martin and Brent Burns will stay together on the second pairing; and 20-year-old Mirco Mueller will skate with Matt Tennyson.

Mueller has played just four games for the Sharks this season. In his last game, Thursday in Philadelphia, he received only 9:13 of ice time.

Also tonight, new Shark forward Dainius Zubrus is expected to debut on the fourth line.

Related: Sharks sign Zubrus, because DeBoer