New Jersey Devils fans were hit with some tough news on Sunday afternoon: Ilya Kovalchuk will be out two-to-four weeks with a shoulder injruy.
Photo by Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger.
The superstar winger was injured in the Devils' 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers on Saturday evening. Kovy lost his footing as he swooped around the net and crashed hard into the boards. He left the game, in obvious pain, and did not return. Devils President/CEO/GM Lou Lamoriello, on Sunday, said, "It’s not an operative situation. It’s a shoulder injury and, as I said, it could be two, it could be four, it could be less, but certainly not more."
Lamiorello added that an X-ray of Kovalchuk's shoulder "was fine" and affirmed that no surgery was needed.
Kovalchuk has 17 goals and 10 assists on the season. Kovy has not exactly been lighting the lamp over the last few games, but his locker room presence will be missed, without a doubt. Still, with the absence of Jersey's best player over the next few weeks, I want to put a sense of confidence back into the minds of Devils fans.
The schedule over the next two-to-four weeks is not that tough. Through the next two weeks, New Jersey will face Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Florida, New York (Islanders), Boston, Toronto, and Buffalo. At least four of those seven games are winnable without Kovalchuk. If Jersey can make it out of that two week span at 4-3 (with projected wins against Tampa Bay, Florida, New York, and Buffalo), everything will be just fine.
Let's assume that Kovalchuk's injury takes longer than two weeks to heal. Still, no need to panic. The Devils play Boston, Ottawa, Toronto, Philadelphia, Florida, and New York (Rangers). Certainly, some of those games are still winnable. If the Devils can't beat Philadelphia and Florida even without Kovalchuk, we have bigger issues to worry about.
This team has a good sampling of leadership, too. Players like Martin Brodeur, Patrik Elias, and Travis Zajac have what it takes to step up when they are needed. This is a great way to see what the Devils are really made of–who's going to step up and fill Kovy's shoes (skates) while he is injured? Only time will tell; rest assured, someone will.
Great moments are defined by the amount of adversity present. Kovalchuk's injury obviously presents a large amount of adversity. I have 100% confidence that the Devils will be able to rebound from this bump in the road.
Joey Pona of Running With The Devils agrees. Joey says, "There's no doubt that the injury to Kovalchuk is going to hurt the Devils. They need to have players step up in his place and contribute to help them win. A good start would be with Clarkson to get going again and have the rest of them follow. I wouldn't be surprised to see Patrik Elias step up or even Martin Brodeur. They know what it's like playing through adversity, especially being together as teammates for so long. Look for Matt D'Agostini to have a good couple of weeks."
Ilya Kovalchuk is a tough dude. He played through the entire post-season last year with a herniated disc in his back. That just sounds painful. I expect Kovalchuk to be back out on the ice before we know it.
Keep in mind that the Devils are still in the playoff picture. They currently sit at seventh in the east with 36 points. The eighth-place Rangers have 33 and the ninth-place Hurricanes have 32. That's plenty of breathing room for now.
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