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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 - NYR 82 53 22 7 252 192 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 221 189 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 262 211 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 242 203 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 252 230 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 235 221 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 238 215 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 221 210 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 213 211 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 206 223 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 236 250 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 215 234 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 181 216 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 188 226 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 211 262 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 161 274 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Henrique 75 16 27 -6 43
M. Cammalleri 68 27 15 2 42
P. Elias 69 13 21 -20 34
S. Gomez 58 7 27 -10 34
S. Bernier 67 16 16 2 32
T. Zajac 74 11 14 -3 25
A. Larsson 64 3 21 2 24
A. Greene 82 3 19 1 22
E. Gelinas 61 6 13 -2 19
M. Ryder 47 6 13 -1 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Schneider 26 31 9 .925 2.26
K. Kinkaid 6 5 4 .915 2.59