Kovalchuk thinks he needs “a few more days” before playing

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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.