Ilya Kovalchuk practiced again Thursday but said there's still discomfort in his shoulder and he doesn't know if he'll be able to play Friday. Kovalchuk said he pushed himself harder today, even attempting some one-timers.
So basically, Kovalchuk is the Devils' Rick Ross.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk2jeE1LOn8]?Can't you imagine Kovy rocking a massive gold chain with his shirt open on the beaches of Russia? Are there beaches in Russia? Does Kovy own any Ross-like jewelry? These are the questions that keep me up in the middle of the day. Much like the question of when Kovalchuk will return to the lineup likely hounds Pete DeBoer. Kovy said after practice today that he doesn't want to play if he can't play like himself, ala taking slapshots and one-timers, which is something we talked about yesterday. If Kovy can't fire off his rocket shots, or play the puck with any real upper-body strength, then how much use is he to the Devils at this point? The Devils obviously need Kovalchuk back in the lineup, but they need a somewhat healthy version in order to benefit from his presence. I think that's something Kovalchuk has repeatedly tried to get across the last couple of days. What's interesting to me is that DeBoer seems far more open to a much more limited version of Kovalchuk being in the lineup. Is that desperation creeping in? Perhaps. It's also DeBoer realizing that Kovalchuk at 60 percent is still better than maybe every forward except Patrik Elias. Kovy said yesterday that he and the team are on the same page with his rehab, but things seemed to diverge a little bit today. I wouldn't read anything into it, but it would be incredibly fascinating to see what version of Kovalchuk gets back on the ice and at what time. It wouldn't surprise me in the least if DeBoer angles to get him back sooner than he's ready.