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.”
- NHL suspends Matt Cooke for seven games 53
- Ducks’ Getzlaf (upper body) isn’t available for Game 4 (Updated) 3
- Two years after winning the Cup, the Kings’ ‘mix’ comes into question 38
- Duck drama: Selanne to sit as healthy scratch in Game 4 15
- MacKinnon, Johnson and Palat named Calder Trophy finalists 11
- Sharks beat Kings in OT, take 3-0 stranglehold on series 43
- Rangers chase Emery, top Flyers for 2-1 series lead 56
- Bruins dominate Red Wings, take 2-1 series lead 49
- And then there were 15: Lightning eliminated 86
- WATCH LIVE: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings (Game 3) 2
- Video: Seabrook ejected for charging Backes; will face hearing (update) (153)
- Bad luck strikes twice: Lightning goal waved off, Stamkos takes knee to head (136)
- Keith doesn’t remember if he taunted Backes after Seabrook hit (125)
- Video: Lucic spears DeKeyser from behind (118)
- Flyers want to ‘punish’ McDonagh (113)