Apr 9, 2013, 9:25 PM EDT
Desperate times may call for desperate measures in New Jersey.
The Devils are winless since losing sniper Ilya Kovalchuk to a shoulder injury seven games ago, and have scored just 12 goals.
On Tuesday, the Russian winger returned to practice — and head coach Peter DeBoer suggested there might not be many more practices before he puts Kovalchuk back into the lineup.
“We’re not going to put his safety in jeopardy,” DeBoer told NHL.com. “But we’re not going to wait until he’s 100 percent to get him back. That’s not realistic.”
The Devils haven’t said what’s wrong with Kovalchuk’s shoulder, only offering a timetable for return (2-4 weeks).
Kovalchuk hasn’t said much either, other than he was in a lot of pain and still hasn’t been able to take hard shots.
“You gotta just keep yourself in shape and do what the trainers and the doctors tell you to,” Kovalchuk explained. “We’ve got a great group of guys here who are very professional and I trust them 100 percent.
“I just try to work hard. We all know the situation we are in and I want to be back as soon as possible.”
The Devils have nine games left in their season, including Wednesday night’s Rivalry Game against the Boston Bruins (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
They currently sit ninth in the East, two back of the eighth-place Islanders for the conference’s final playoff spot.
It stands to reason they won’t be making the postseason without Kovalchuk in the lineup — regardless if he’s at full health or not.
“”I’d take him at less than 100 percent,” DeBoer said. “But he’s got work to do before he’s an option.”
- On carrying three goalies, and which teams might be forced to do it 1
- Bettman: NHL won’t expand ‘just to fulfill somebody’s notion of symmetry’ 7
- Report: Johansen lowers demands, but not low enough 32
- Injuries piling up as preseason schedule begins 11
- Report: Fedorov denies contract offer was made to Johansen 8
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers 44
- Update: Drouin out with upper body injury, not expected to miss preseason 1
- Report: NHL officials to participate in preseason without new CBA 1
- Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals 16
- ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk 19
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (65)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Report: Johansen has gotten no shortage of KHL offers (44)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)
- Just how damaging are heated negotiations between Jackets, RFA Johansen? (38)