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DeBoer confirms Kovalchuk played through back injury, was “well below 100 percent”

Jun 13, 2012, 12:54 PM EDT

Ilya Kovalchuk AP

It was a poorly-kept secret Ilya Kovalchuk was playing through pain in the Stanley Cup finals. He didn’t look like the dynamic offensive powerhouse he was in the first three rounds and having to deal with the physically punishing Kings made matters worse.

Today, Devils coach Peter DeBoer confirmed what everyone believed to be true in that Kovalchuk was playing through a back injury.’s Dan Rosen reports DeBoer saying Kovalchuk’s back was in such rough shape he was playing “well below 100 percent.”

Kovalchuk had just one goal, an empty-netter in Game 4, during the finals but finished the postseason tied for the playoff lead in goals scored with eight and third in points with 19, one behind both Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown. While that offense all came in the first three rounds for Kovalchuk, you wonder how differently things would’ve turned out if he was fully healthy. Kovalchuk finished fifth in the NHL in points this season.

  1. rangerblood - Jun 13, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    The Devils would be making excuses! Everyone is hurt eventually in the playoffs. If you do not get hurt you likley aren’t playing hard enough.

    • govtminion - Jun 13, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      Never mind that after every team is eliminated we find out about who was playing through pain. Or is Gaborik excepted because he’s one of your boys?

      • danphipps01 - Jun 13, 2012 at 3:18 PM

        In fairness, Gaborik’s not exactly known for being a clutch playoff performer. He’s known as kind of the opposite of that. Barring one white-hot tear with the Wild nearly a decade ago, he tends to kind of suck in the playoffs regardless of health level.

        Still, you’re bang-on. Everyone had to deal with some injuries. Confirming that Kovalchuk had one isn’t making excuses, it’s standard post-elimination reporting. The Kings’ll come out with a couple of their own in the next week too. Calling out any particular team for admitting they had hurt stars is stupid.

    • jb8383 - Jun 13, 2012 at 2:16 PM

      How are they making excuses? DeBoer just confirmed what everyone has been asking the whole playoffs. I think you need to worry about your own team.

      • imleftcoast - Jun 13, 2012 at 4:59 PM

        He looked terrible, and Don Cherry questioned his soft play in the Finals. DeBoer did what ever coach would do.

  2. mclovinhockey - Jun 13, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Just like every player in the league (see the half the flyers team including all of their top tier players) people always play through injuries in the playoffs, they didn’t say they were making excuses. Just saying he might need surgery in the offseason.

  3. thedavesiknowiknow - Jun 14, 2012 at 5:25 AM

    Don Cherry’s opinion on any player that isn’t Canadian? To him only “Commies” and Americans have bad habits on the ice. Kovalchuk adapted: it didn’t always work, but he made plays that HELPED get the Devils to the finals. Don Cherry questioning any non North American player requires consideration of the source: He’s biased, ill-informed, ignorant, and ill-qualified to talk about hockey. He did a bang-up job learning to dress himself though.

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