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Kovalchuk practices, hopes to return 'ASAP'

Tuesday, 04.09.2013 / 2:35 PM / News
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Kovalchuk practices, hopes to return \'ASAP\'



 
NEWARK, N.J. -- Ilya Kovalchuk is not ready to return to the New Jersey Devils' lineup just yet, but the team isn't going to wait too much longer to bring him back.

The Devils are 0-3-4 and have scored only 12 goals since Kovalchuk went down with a right shoulder injury on March 23. They have fallen back into ninth place in the Eastern Conference heading into their NBC Sports Network Wednesday Night Rivalry game against the Boston Bruins at Prudential Center (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2).

"We're not going to put his safety in jeopardy," Devils coach Peter DeBoer said Tuesday, "but we're not going to wait until he's 100 percent to get him back. That's not realistic."

Kovalchuk practiced Tuesday for the first time since he was put on injured reserve on March 24.

He avoided contact and skated as both an extra forward and even an extra defenseman at times. However, he was able to take light wrist shots early in practice, move the puck with some hard passes and got some time rotating in with the penalty killers.

"It was a good day," Kovalchuk said.

Especially considering two days ago he wasn't even able to shoot the puck.

Kovalchuk said the next step is to start taking slap shots and one-timers. He hasn't tried either yet.

"You gotta just keep yourself in shape and do what the trainers and the doctors tell you to," he said. "We've got a great group of guys here who are very professional and I trust them 100 percent. I just try to work hard. We all know the situation we are in and I want to be back as soon as possible."

DeBoer said the focus now is to see how Kovalchuk responds to a full practice, even though he didn't take any contact and didn't attempt any hard shots.

"I'd take him at less than 100 percent, but he's got work to do before he's an option," DeBoer said.

Kovalchuk wouldn't go into detail about what he did to his shoulder (the Devils just said it was a right shoulder injury and he'd be out between two to four weeks), but he admitted he was in serious pain. He hesitated when he was asked if he initially thought he would be in jeopardy of missing the remainder of the season.

"You never know when you're in that kind of pain, but I didn't want to stay out there [on the ice] too long because I knew my daughter was watching," Kovalchuk said. "She always asks me if somebody cross checked me or something, 'Does it hurt you?' Then she feels bad. I had to get out of there and into the locker room.

"It's never good when you go to the hospital after the game. You know something is wrong."

The Devils, though, won't wait for it to be 100 percent right. If they do, their season might be over.

"[It's] definitely going to take a few more days," Kovalchuk said.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 PIT 30 20 6 4 98 71 44
2 TBL 33 20 10 3 110 87 43
3 NYI 31 21 10 0 99 89 42
4 MTL 32 20 10 2 87 80 42
5 DET 32 17 7 8 92 80 42
6 TOR 31 19 9 3 109 87 41
7 BOS 32 16 13 3 81 83 35
8 NYR 29 15 10 4 89 79 34
9 FLA 29 13 8 8 66 75 34
10 WSH 30 14 10 6 86 81 34
11 OTT 31 13 12 6 82 86 32
12 CBJ 30 13 15 2 72 95 28
13 BUF 32 13 17 2 62 100 28
14 NJD 33 11 16 6 74 96 28
15 PHI 30 11 14 5 80 90 27
16 CAR 30 8 19 3 62 87 19

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 32 5 15 -9 20
A. Henrique 26 8 10 2 18
M. Zidlicky 33 4 13 -5 17
M. Cammalleri 23 11 4 0 15
M. Ryder 32 4 10 -1 14
D. Severson 32 4 8 -4 12
P. Elias 27 3 9 -13 12
E. Gelinas 26 4 6 3 10
T. Zajac 25 4 4 -4 8
S. Bernier 22 2 6 3 8
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
K. Kinkaid 0 1 2 .942 1.71
C. Schneider 11 15 3 .916 2.55