Getting their future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur back last week was a tremendous morale-booster for the New Jersey Devils. However, losing power forward, Ilya Kovalchuk for a minimum of two to four weeks with only five left in the season was a huge step backward.
Yet, the team hung tough against the Ottawa Senators in a 3-2 shootout loss.
“It was a gutsy effort by us,” Coach Pete DeBoer said in a post game interview with the CBC. “I don’t look at any points as disappointing. I thought our guys played their hearts out and deserved better, but we’ll take the point and keep moving forward.”
The loss of their Russian top gun will be a difficult one to overcome, but the Devils aren’t ready to give up on the season.
“Just because he’s out, we’re not cashing in here,” forward Adam Henrique pointed out after last night’s game. “We know that we can still win. We showed tonight we can play hard and we can take it to other teams. Just because he’s out, it doesn’t mean the season is over.”
Kovalchuk had an MRI on his right shoulder yesterday. Apparently, the results did not show anything different than the negative X-rays did.
Unfortunately, the Devils suffered two more blows in the injury department with the loss of captain Bryce Salvador and center Stephen Gionta. Both began last night’s contest, but were not on the ice for the second or the third periods.
Salvador has a lower body injury and Gionta has an upper body one. The team did not divulge any other details and it is unlikely they will in the near future. Both players flew with the team overnight to Florida and were scheduled to be examined by doctors in order to determine the severity of their injuries.
“This is too bad,” Brodeur reasoned when addressing the media in the locker room. “A lot of guys are getting hurt or banged up. It’s just a product of the type of season we’re going through. A lot of teams have to go through it. Early on we weren’t hit too bad and now we’re getting hit pretty hard.”
Yes, they are and at the worst possible time in the season. So, the question becomes can they dig deep and withstand it.