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 p - BOS 82 54 19 9 261 177 117
2 y - PIT 82 51 24 7 249 207 109
3 x - TBL 82 46 27 9 240 215 101
4 x - MTL 82 46 28 8 215 204 100
5 x - NYR 82 45 31 6 218 193 96
6 x - PHI 82 42 30 10 236 235 94
7 x - CBJ 82 43 32 7 231 216 93
8 x - DET 82 39 28 15 222 230 93
9 WSH 82 38 30 14 235 240 90
10 NJD 82 35 29 18 197 208 88
11 OTT 82 37 31 14 236 265 88
12 TOR 82 38 36 8 231 256 84
13 CAR 82 36 35 11 207 230 83
14 NYI 82 34 37 11 225 267 79
15 FLA 82 29 45 8 196 268 66
16 BUF 82 21 51 10 157 248 52

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Jagr 82 24 43 16 67
P. Elias 65 18 35 -4 53
T. Zajac 80 18 30 3 48
A. Henrique 77 25 18 3 43
M. Zidlicky 81 12 30 -3 42
M. Ryder 82 18 16 -6 34
A. Greene 82 8 24 3 32
E. Gelinas 60 7 22 -3 29
D. Zubrus 82 13 13 1 26
R. Clowe 43 7 19 -10 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 16 15 12 .921 1.97
M. Brodeur 19 14 6 .901 2.51