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Kovalchuk practices, hopes to return 'ASAP'

Tuesday, 04.9.2013 / 2:35 PM ET / 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 - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Palmieri 82 30 27 3 57
A. Henrique 80 30 20 10 50
T. Zajac 74 14 28 3 42
M. Cammalleri 42 14 24 15 38
D. Severson 72 1 20 -8 21
R. Boucher 39 8 11 -13 19
D. Schlemko 67 6 13 -22 19
J. Moore 73 4 15 -12 19
A. Larsson 82 3 15 15 18
J. Blandisi 41 5 12 -14 17
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 27 25 6 .924 2.15
K. Kinkaid 9 9 1 .904 2.81
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