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NEWS

Kovalchuk thriving with more ice time

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 4:33 PM / News
By Eric Marin
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Kovalchuk thriving with more ice time
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Kovalchuk's seeing ice time in all situations.
(NHL/Getty Images)
Peter DeBoer saw plenty of Ilya Kovalchuk during their time in the Southeast Division – he was the coach in Florida for a season-plus while Kovalchuk was the dynamic scoring threat in Atlanta.

But DeBoer has gotten to know Kovalchuk better now that they're on the same side.

"He’s always an impressive player," DeBoer said Wednesday. "I’ve come to appreciate his commitment to winning and his willingness to do whatever he needs to do to win. The details of the game, I think watching him from the other bench, didn’t appreciate how willing he was to buy in to doing things defensively and playing in the last minute of a game with the lead, doing those type of things. He’s been very good."

Kovalchuk's off to a torrid start in 2011-12 with two goals, two assists in four games, including a game-winner and two deciding tallies in the shootout. He's seen more and more ice time as a result.

His 27:01 minutes per game are fourth in the League, making him the only forward in the top 55.

"For me, he’s earning our trust as a guy we can use in a lot of different situations," DeBoer said. "For me, through four games here, he’s been out with the net empty at the other end in a 5-on-6 situation and got the job done. He obviously is dangerous every time he’s on the ice. We’re going to give him some responsibility on the penalty kill, too. There are nights in the year when you’re sitting killing penalties for eight or 10 minutes, and a guy like that can’t get cold for that long."

Kovalchuk saw 32:04 of ice time in Saturday's shootout win over Nashville. DeBoer doesn't expect that to be the norm.

"Probably not," he said. "I got a few calls from friends around the League wondering if I was going to burn him out by Christmas. But he’s got a big engine and he seems to thrive on the responsibility."

It helps that Kovalchuk's in top shape. 

"He’s definitely someone that’s capable," DeBoer said. "We did a skate yesterday, a tough skate at the end of practice after being on the ice for over an hour. He was barely winded at the end of it. Other guys were doubled over. He just has that type of capability."

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
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STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 32 22 6 4 102 72 48
2 NYI 33 23 10 0 104 91 46
3 MTL 34 21 11 2 92 83 44
4 TBL 35 20 11 4 113 93 44
5 DET 34 17 8 9 94 84 43
6 TOR 34 19 12 3 114 102 41
7 NYR 31 17 10 4 93 81 38
8 WSH 32 16 10 6 95 85 38
9 BOS 34 17 14 3 86 88 37
10 FLA 31 14 9 8 69 79 36
11 OTT 33 14 13 6 89 92 34
12 PHI 33 13 14 6 92 99 32
13 CBJ 32 14 15 3 79 102 31
14 NJD 35 12 17 6 77 102 30
15 BUF 34 13 18 3 66 109 29
16 CAR 33 9 20 4 68 92 22

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 28 9 11 0 20
J. Jagr 34 5 15 -11 20
M. Zidlicky 35 4 13 -5 17
M. Cammalleri 23 11 4 0 15
M. Ryder 33 4 10 -1 14
P. Elias 29 4 9 -16 13
D. Severson 32 4 8 -4 12
E. Gelinas 28 4 6 2 10
A. Greene 35 0 9 -3 9
T. Zajac 27 4 4 -6 8
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Kinkaid 1 1 2 .939 1.75
C. Schneider 11 16 3 .915 2.57