New Jersey Devils Adjust Lineup in the Wake of Kovalchuk Injury

By Steve Palumbo

New Jersey Devils President and General Manager Lou Lamoriello announced Tuesday that Ilya Kovalchuk will not play in game two of their second-round series with the Philadelphia Flyers due to a “lower body” injury.

After putting no shots on net in nearly 21 minutes of floating around the ice, barely able to skate, Kovalchuk had to sit. Now the Devils must alter their lineup to adjust to the 37 goal scorers departure.

The largest hole left in Kovalchuk’s absence will be on the power  play, where his booming shot is a threat to go in the net every time he lets one rip. Through the first eight games of the playoffs the Russian sniper has two of his teams six goals with the man advantage.

It looks as though head coach Pete Deboer has decided to move defenseman Peter Harrold to the wing, a position he did play during the regular season. Harrold may also man Kovalchuk’s customary spot on the left side of the power play unit with Marek Zidlicky holding done the fort on the other point. Expect Harrold to see limited ice time on the fourth line with Ryan Carter and Stephen Gionta.

Rookie Adam Larsson will make his NHL playoff debut in Harrold’s place on the blue line. It’s the first time Larsson has cracked the Devils lineup this post season. It’s also the first action of any kind the 19-year-old has seen since two weeks prior to the conclusion of the regular season, a span of 14 regular and playoff games.

Other changes include Dainius Zubrus playing right wing on the line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and Travis Zajac; David Clarkson playing with Zach Parise and Patrik Elias. Adam Henrique centering a line with Petr Sykora and Steve Bernier. Along with Harrold and Bernier sharing time with Carter and Gionta.

The Devils already trail the series 1-0 and appear in danger of falling farther behind without one of their top offensive weapons. But, New Jersey has proven to be a resilient bunch and the infusion of new blood could prove to be beneficial. After all Kovalchuk was more or less just taking valuable ice time away from a more healthy a capable player.

If New Jersey can sneak out of the Well Fargo Center with a win on Tuesday night without Ilya Kovalchuk  I like their chances the rest of the way in the series. The only problem is, I don’t think that is going to be the case.

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