Ilya Kovalchuk’s absence from the Devils lineup has been more than felt by the team. They’re losers of nine in a row, every game that Kovalchuk’s missed since getting hurt on March 23 against Florida. While he’s skating with the team again, he’s not quite ready for action.
Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice hears it from the Russian superstar about how he needs a few more days to be ready.
“But still I think I need a few more days just to get the strength back in the hand and in the shoulder,” he said.
He tells Gulitti he still can’t take a one-timer and has just been taking wrist shots in practice. The Devils play Toronto on Monday and Kovalchuk won’t be back for that one.
With how he’s progressing, a return on Thursday against Philly isn’t out of the question but there’s no doubt the team needs him back. Coach Peter DeBoer said he’d take him back at less than 100-percent. There’s no doubt he’d want him back now.
As it is, New Jersey is four points back of the Rangers for eighth in the East, but with seven games remaining they can’t afford to lose much more. On the upside, they’ve got two games remaining with the Rangers at Madison Square Garden including their final game of the season.
Fighting for their playoff lives, the New Jersey Devils will be without another key contributor on Friday.
Captain Bryce Salvador will miss tonight’s game against the Senators with a wrist injury, according to Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. He’ll join Ilya Kovalchuk (shoulder) and Johan Hedberg (back) on the shelf.
Salvador, 37, was injured during Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Bruins after blocking a Zdeno Chara slapshot. The veteran defenseman ended up logging just 6:15 of ice time and doesn’t appear to be feeling much better after a day of rest.
“Not good enough to play,” was how Devs head coach Peter DeBoer described Salvador’s wrist.
Salvador has had a rough season after signing a three-year, $9.5 million extension with New Jersey during the summer. He has just two points through 39 games and is an ugly minus-12, but does sit third on the time in ice time (21:20 per game)
The Devils, meanwhile, have lost eight straight and are in serious danger of not making the playoffs, this after getting to the Stanley Cup finals a year ago. They currently sit 10th in the East with 40 points, four back of the eighth-place Rangers.
The last team to make the Cup finals and fail to make the playoffs the following season was the 2006-07 Edmonton Oilers.
The New Jersey Devils managed to get back into a game that started off 4-0 on Wednesday, eventually losing to the Boston Bruins 5-4. Moral victories aside, the team’s on an eight-game losing streak, prompting head coach Peter DeBoer to demand more fight from the team, as he told The Bergen Record’s Tom Gulitti.
“You know the spot you’re in and you have two choices – you roll over and die or you get up tomorrow and you find a way to turn one win into six or seven or whatever it’s going to take,” DeBoer said.
Glad you (kind of) asked, coach.
Sports Club Stats’ numbers indicate that the Devils would have to put the following type of run together to have better than a coin flip’s chance of making the 2013 playoffs:*
6-2-0 finish: 56.5 percent chance.
5-0-3 finish: 75.1 percent chance
6-1-1 finish: 80.3 percent chance
To save you a click or three, here’s the team’s remaining schedule:
Friday: home vs. Ottawa
April 15: at Toronto
April 18: at Philadelphia
April 20: home vs. Florida
April 21: at New York Rangers
April 23: home vs. Montreal
April 25: home vs. Pittsburgh
April 27: home vs. New York Rangers
Surely the Rangers wouldn’t want to spoil the Devils’ playoff bid if it came down to it, would they?
* – Then again, some Devils fans might be crossing their fingers for them to lose as many games as possible considering how much the team seems to depend upon Ilya Kovalchuk.