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Kovalchuk feels ready to go

Back at practice Tuesday, expects to face Isles on Wednesday

Tuesday, 03.29.2011 / 3:18 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Kovalchuk feels ready to go
Kovalchuk ready to go against the Islanders on Wednesday. GETTY IMAGES
Ilya Kovalchuk was back at practice Tuesday and expects to play in Wednesday’s meeting with the Islanders.

All he needs is a green light from Jacques Lemaire.

“It’s Jacques’ decision, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to play,” Kovalchuk said.

Kovalchuk was hit in both feet by two different shots in Saturday’s loss at Buffalo. His discomfort was evident after taking a Thomas Vanek slapper in his right foot, and he missed Monday’s practice.

Kovalchuk has played in every game this season but one, when he was a healthy scratch in October. It will take more than a little soreness to keep him out of the lineup.

“A little bit, but it’s good,” he said. “It’s all good. It will be even better tomorrow, so I don’t even worry about that.”

X-rays were negative and Kovalchuk doesn’t expect to miss any additional time. A broken foot forced him to miss six games in November 2009.

“I hate to sit out games, like everybody else,” he said. “Usually I heal pretty quick. This was just a couple of bruises. I was lucky there weren’t any fractures or anything.”

Lemaire has marveled at Kovalchuk’s conditioning and skill.

“He’s a big guy, he can take a lot,” said Lemaire. “He can take a lot of minutes, he recovers quick. Conditions aside, he’s an athlete. He’s a born athlete. He’s not the guy that has to train a lot to be in good shape. It looks like he’s fit. He hasn’t skated for two, three days, and you look at him go there, he’s not breathing as hard as the other guys.”

As far as the postseason is concerned, the Devils find themselves on the outside looking in with seven games to go. They trail eighth-place Buffalo by 12 points.

“We’re going to push until the last second of the last game because we have a lot of pride and we know our fans,” Kovalchuk said. “I’m sure it’ll be good crowds. We didn’t accomplish anything, but I think we showed a lot of character in that stretch. We’re going make that push right to the end to make life feel better before next year.”

Colin White and Anton Volchenkov missed their second straight full team practice. They both suffered lower body injuries at Pittsburgh on Friday and missed Saturday's contest in Buffalo.

Mark Fraser and Jay Leach practiced in their absence.

Line shuffle
Lemaire kept Zach Parise with Travis Zajac and Nick Palmieri, moving Kovalchuk to a line with Jacob Josefson and Dainius Zubrus. The other lines were Brian Rolston - Patrik Elias - Mattias Tedenby and Adam Mair - David Steckel - David Clarkson. Rod Pelley and Vladimir Zharkov were the extra forwards.

"That was a shuffle," Lemaire said. "I’ve got to remember those lines. Some of them looked good, huh?"