The New Jersey Devils lost their superstar forward Ilya Kovalchuk to a brutal injury. During the 2-1 victory Saturday night, Kovalchuk was skating down the right wing towards the Florida Panthers net when he caught an edge and barreled into the boards. He was shaken up on the play and took a while to get onto his feet. One bright side is he did skate off of the ice on his own.
The crowd went silent as the 6-foot 3-inch, 230 pound body made a loud boom that echoed throughout the stadium. Kovalchuk was writhing in pain before favoring his right shoulder as he skated off. He instantly went into the locker room and did not return to the game.
Kovalchuk had an x-ray right after the game and was “okay”, but he underwent an MRI this afternoon. The Devils will not give out the exact injury, just that it is a shoulder injury.
Kovalchuk is estimated to be out anywhere from two to four weeks. In response to the injury, the Devils placed Kovalchuk on Injured Reserve and called up Harri Pesonen.
The loss of Kovalchuk is a huge blow to the Devils lineup as he is second on the team with 27 points (10 goals, 17 assists). He also leads all NHL forwards averaging 25:13 ice time a game.
In addition to Kovalchuk on IR, the Devils also placed left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky on IR as well. Ponikarovsky has missed the last two games as he is nursing a lower-body injury. He will not make the trip to Ottawa for Monday nights game. However, Ponikarovsky can join the team later on in the road trip next week.
The Devils need to look forward and keep on rolling without Kovalchuk over the course of the next few weeks. Players like Patrik Elias, Adam Henrique, and David Clarkson need to rise up to the occasion and score more goals. Life without Kovalchuk may not be easy, but the Devils have the right pieces to keep them in the playoff race.