Kovy making a point beyond scoresheet
Ilya Kovalchuk's point production may have dipped since the first week of the season, but head coach Peter DeBoer says there's no cause for alarm.
"I'm not worried about Kovy," DeBoer said after Wednesday's optional practice. "Kovy's on board, Kovy's doing a lot of little things the right way that are helping us win games. He's on the ice all the time, and he's getting chances. Those are eventually going to go in for him."
The Devils' leading scorer last season (37g-46a-83pts) opened the new year with two goals and three assists in his first four games, including a successful shorthanded penalty shot. He's since gone five games without a point, and was limited to one shot in Tuesday's 3-1 win over the Rangers.
"I think I can produce more, that's for sure," Kovalchuk said. "But overall, I think we're playing well and the team's doing good so it doesn't really matter."
He'd like to see the team be more productive 5-on-5.
"It's only (nine) games we've played and it's still kind of like a training camp for everybody," Kovalchuk said. "I'm pretty sure we'll be better as the season goes on."
But Kovalchuk's role as a scorer shouldn't diminish the contributions he makes beyond the scoresheet.
"He takes a lot of personal pressure for us to win and for him to score," DeBoer said. "When you're winning 1-0 or losing 2-1 like we did in Boston, he takes that personally. For me, you can't lose sight of all the other good things he's doing, that the goals will come."
Right now the goals are coming from David Clarkson, who leads the Devils with seven after tallying twice against the Rangers. Only Patrick Marleau (9) and Thomas Vanek (8) have lit the lamp more times, and only Marleau (5) has more than Clarkson's four power-play markers.
Clarkson's (2g-1a) line with Patrik Elias (3a) and Adam Henrique (1g) combined for three goals and four assists versus Henrik Lundqvist as the Devils (5-1-3) won their second in a row since a four-game winless skid.
"It's all about the team," Kovalchuk said. "If we'll be struggling as a team, it'll be a different story. It'll be tough. But right now everything's working, knock on wood, and it doesn't matter–Clarky and Patty's line, they're doing really well, and it's great for our team. It says a lot.
High-scoring Tampa Bay comes to town Thursday, followed by a visit from the Penguins on Saturday to open a weekend home-and-home. The tandem of Martin Brodeur (4-1-2, 2.51 GAA, .907 save pct) and Johan Hedberg (1-0-1, 0.48 GAA, .980 save pct) will need to continue its strong play.
"We've gotten great goaltending so far," DeBoer said. "That's a key for any team in this league. It gives you a chance to win every night."
• Devils penalty killers are a perfect 15-for-15 since allowing three PPGs to the Islanders last Thursday.