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Kovalchuk to miss second straight game

Will sit tonight against Carolina due to lower body injury

Tuesday, 11.8.2011 / 12:37 PM ET / News
By Eric Marin
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Kovalchuk to miss second straight game
Ilya Kovalchuk took part in today's morning skate, but will miss his second straight game tonight against visiting Carolina.

Kovalchuk feels closer to full strength since injurying his lower body while backchecking in Thursday's game at Philadelphia. 

"Actually, I feel pretty good, but with that kind of injury you want to be 100 percent sure," Kovalchuk told reporters today. "You don’t want to re-injure yourself. That’s the main reason."

Kovalchuk has nine points (2g, 7a) in 11 appearances this season. Coach Peter DeBoer had a good feeling that Kovalchuk will be ready to go Friday, when the Devils (6-5-1) host Washington for the first of a Friday-Saturday home-and-home.

“I do,” said DeBoer. “Anytime you have an injury like that, it’s tough to predict exactly how it’s going to come along, but he’s made huge strides the last three, four days, and if he can continue to do that, I think he probably will [play]."

Andy Greene is expected to play tonight after missing the last two games with a lower body injury.

"I'm going to give it a go," Greene said. "I'm doing warmups, then I'll go from there. I felt pretty good."

Greene tested the injury with crossovers and pivots in morning skate and reported it's, "the best it's felt."

“We saw him there at the end, he looks like he’s going to be able to go, but we’re going to hold off until gametime to make that decision” said DeBoer.

Carolina (5-6-3) enters tonight's contest having dropped two in a row. The Devils, who topped the Hurricanes 4-2 back on Oct. 10, are looking for their third straight win. 

But DeBoer knows no opponent can be taken lightly.

"They'll be challenge," he said. "I know [Carolina coach] Paul Maurice, he's not a guy that takes that laying down. His teams always respond to that type of adversity. We're prepared for that, we've talked about it, and we have to take care of our own game here."

Offensively, the Devils are getting on track. New Jersey has tallied three times in each of its last three outings.

"We’re doing thing better offensively," DeBoer said. "I think when you look at the 12 games, we’ve outshot some teams, we’ve outchanced some teams. We’re still not finishing like I would like, we’re still not getting enough point shots through from our offensive zone time and pucks and bodies to the net, but offensively we’re doing some better things. The key here is obviously combining that defensive foundation with some goals, and that’s what we’re striving for."

Rookie center Adam Henrique had two goals in Saturday's win over Winnipeg, including the OT clincher. DeBoer explained that the challenge for a young player is consistency.

"He's not going to score every night," DeBoer said. "He's got to consistently be a threat. As long as he's getting chances, using his speed, taking care of the details in his own end of the ice, which is an area he's got to continue to focus on, that's a good thing. It's young guys taking their foot off the gas, or expecting, 'I'm not scoring, so I'm not playing well.' Those are the urges you have to fight with young guys. We've got to keep him on the rails and know that even if he's not scoring every night, that he's still helping us in a lot of different ways."

Eric Boulton will miss his eighth straight game. He suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right hand after his one-punch KO of San Jose's Douglas Murray.

He was placed on IR yesterday, retroactive to Oct. 21.

"A little frustrated, but it’s one of those injuries that, it’s the top hand on my stick, you’re always using it," Boulton said. "It’s hard, when you’re favoring it, you can really tell. Before I get in there and play, I want to make sure I’m close to 100 percent so I don’t hurt the team. I want to be an effective player out there. Using the top hand on your stick is a big part of your game. It’s slowly but surely getting there."