Desperate times may call for desperate measures in New Jersey.
The Devils are winless since losing sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to a shoulder injury seven games ago, and have scored just 12 goals.
On Tuesday, the Russian winger returned to practice — and head coach Peter DeBoer suggested there might not be many more practices before he puts Kovalchuk back into the lineup.
“We’re not going to put his safety in jeopardy,” DeBoer told NHL.com. “But we’re not going to wait until he’s 100 percent to get him back. That’s not realistic.”
The Devils haven’t said what’s wrong with Kovalchuk’s shoulder, only offering a timetable for return (2-4 weeks).
Kovalchuk hasn’t said much either, other than he was in a lot of pain and still hasn’t been able to take hard shots.
“You gotta just keep yourself in shape and do what the trainers and the doctors tell you to,” Kovalchuk explained. “We’ve got a great group of guys here who are very professional and I trust them 100 percent.
“I just try to work hard. We all know the situation we are in and I want to be back as soon as possible.”
The Devils have nine games left in their season, including Wednesday night’s Rivalry Game against the Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
They currently sit ninth in the East, two back of the eighth-place Islanders for the conference’s final playoff spot.
It stands to reason they won’t be making the postseason without Kovalchuk in the lineup — regardless if he’s at full health or not.
“”I’d take him at less than 100 percent,” DeBoer said. “But he’s got work to do before he’s an option.”
The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.
Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.
Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.
“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”
Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:
- He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
- Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
- The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.
Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.
Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?
Despite owning two Stanley Cup rings, there are a healthy number of people who aren’t wild about Jonathan Quick.
Those people might feel validated through the Los Angeles Kings’ first two games, as he followed a rough loss to the San Jose Sharks with a true stinker against the Arizona Coyotes on Friday.
Sometimes a goalie has a bad night stats-wise, yet his team is as much to blame as anything else. You can probably pin this one on Quick, who allowed four goals on just 14 shots through the first two periods.
Things died down in the final frame, but let’s face it; slowing things down is absolutely the Coyotes’ design with a 4-1 lead (which ultimately resulted in a 4-1 win).
A soft 1-0 goal turned out to be a sign of things to come:
Many expected the Kings to roar into this second game after laying an egg in their opener. Instead, the Coyotes exploited Quick’s struggles for a confidence-booster, which included key prospect Max Domi scoring a goal and an assist.
It’s worth mentioning that Mike Smith looked downright fantastic at times, only drawing more attention to Quick’s struggles.
After a troubled summer and a failed 2014-15 season, Los Angeles was likely eager to start things off the right way.
Instead, they instead will likely focus on the fact that they merely dropped two (ugly) games.