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Super Bowl 50

Sun, Feb 7, 2016

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Kovalchuk's absence does not bother this team

The Sports Xchange

--The speculation on the health of right wing Ilya Kovalchuk ended when Kovalchuk missed Game 2 of the second-round series with the Flyers with a lower-body injury. It was believed to be a leg muscle or groin injury.

Then, the Star-Ledger cited sources Tuesday night saying that Kovalchuk had a back problem.

Regardless, he wasn't even in Philadelphia and his teammates beat the Flyers 4-1 without him.

"He's had this since the middle of the first series," said general manager Lou Lamoriello. "Progressively I think it's to a point where it's not positive for him and it's not positive for the team if he can't be at 100 percent.

"He's an intelligent individual. He understands where he's at, but it's day to day and that's how it is going to be approached. There is going to be no discussion about it. We're not going to have any distractions here."

Kovalchuk, who has advanced to his first second-round series after coming up empty in his first two visits to the playoffs (with Atlanta and New Jersey), looked a step slow in the latter stages of the first round but was clearly worse in the opening overtime loss to the Flyers, going without a shot on goal and committing numerous defensive mistakes.

Asked about the impact of Kovalchuk's absence on the team, Lamoriello said, "At this point there is no impact in any way whatsoever because you have to play with the people you have and we don't think any different. The people in the lineup are prepared to play.

"These things happen at times, and right now I have total confidence in our locker room and the players in that room -- 100 percent."

Said coach Pete DeBoer, who skated Peter Harrold on right wing (after Tim Sestito was recalled) Tuesday night: "Playoffs are about injuries and overcoming injuries, using your depth. Everyone deals with that stuff. It's nothing we haven't dealt with before, having Travis (Zajac) down for most of the year. So it's business as usual and someone will have to jump in and take those minutes.

"We have some options," he added. "The nice thing for me is we have some depth. The fourth line has been arguably our best line consistently through the first round of the playoffs. So someone there will get an opportunity to jump up and someone will fill in behind him."

--The Devils have won three Stanley Cups but Tuesday night did something they had never done before; score four goals in a playoff period. They tallied four times in a 14:01 span of the third period to put away their 4-1 Game 2 win.

--The club's record-setting penalty kill, which gave up eight goals in the Florida series, was perfect on five tries Tuesday night (Bryce Salvador's empty-netter was a shorthanded goal) and is 11-for-12 in the series. The power play, on the other hand, was 0-for-4 to slip to 6-for-32 in the postseason.

"The crowds have been really good and we'll need them again for Game 3. We came in here, it's a tough building, and we got our split. So, now we have to take advantage of home games." -- LW Zach Parise as the Devils come home tied 1-1 with the Flyers.

Copyright (C) 2012 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.


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