Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovy out to Ditch Slow Start

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Kovy out to Ditch Slow Start

Article excerpt

NEWARK - On a Wednesday afternoon when most of the Devils' regulars stayed off the ice, there was Ilya Kovalchuk skating with the team's extra players and fourth-liners at Prudential Center.

It's not that Kovalchuk was looking for a little extra ice time - his 26:08 average leads all other NHL forwards by more than four minutes - or working on anything in particular, though.

"I drove for 40 minutes, we had a quick meeting, my kids are still in school, I've got nothing to do at home, so I went and skated a little bit," Kovalchuk explained.

Statistically at least, Kovalchuk is off to a slow start. He enters tonight's home game against Tampa Bay with just two goals and three assists in the Devils' first nine games and hasn't registered a point in their last five.

"It's never perfect," Kovalchuk said of his play. "I think I can produce more, that's for sure. But overall, I think we're playing well and the team is doing good, so it doesn't really matter."

Devils coach Pete DeBoer believes Kovalchuk has done plenty beyond his goal and assist totals to help the team get off to a 5-1- 3 start.

"That's the bottom line," DeBoer said. "I'm not worried about Kovy. Kovy's on board. Kovy's doing a lot of little things the right way that are helping us win games. He's on the ice all the time and he's getting chances. Those are eventually going to go in for him."

Kovalchuk, who is second on the Devils with 30 shots on net (behind David Clarkson's 38), also says that he's not worried about his production as long as the team is winning and others are scoring. So far, that's been Clarkson (team-high seven goals and 12 points) and Patrik Elias (10 points).

"If we would be struggling as a team, that would be a different story," he said. "That would be tough, but right now everything is working, knock on wood, and it doesn't matter."

Still, it is evident at times that Kovalchuk is disappointed he hasn't gotten on the score sheet more often and his confidence in that area is waning. …

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