The Russian winger has been skating this week, but is still experiencing pain in his injured right shoulder.
Kovalchuk hurt his shoulder when he went crashing into the boards on March 23 in a game against the Florida Panthers. That 2-1 win was the last time the Devils have seen a victory. The team has gone 0-4-4 since then.
With only eight games remaining and the Devils in the midst of an ugly eight game skid, the team was hopeful Kovalchuk would make his return. However, it was not to be.
“It was obvious he’s not close enough to help us or help himself or put himself in a situation where he can be successful,” coach Pete DeBoer explained in an interview on Tom Gulitti’s Fire and Ice Blog. “He’s getting closer every day. I don’t think it’s far off, but definitely not tonight.”
The Devils will also be without Anton Volchenkov who was suspended for four games following an elbow to the head of Brad Marchand in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to the Boston Bruins. Marchand did not play for the Bruins last night and has a mild concussion. It was the second suspension in Volchenkov’s career. The last one was in February of 2011 for a similar incident.
Captain Bryce Salvador will also be watching from the stands after taking a Zdeno Chara slap shot to the wrist. Thankfully, Salvador’s wrist is not broken though he does have significant bruising.
This means Adam Larsson, who was unable to get his skate boot on after being hit in the foot by a shot from Volchenkov in practice on Tuesday, and Peter Harrold will both be in the lineup this evening.
X-rays were negative on Larsson’s foot, and he was able to practice yesterday.
While Salvador is listed by the team as day to day, there is still not a date in mind for Kovalchuk’s return. With the clock ticking, it will hopefully be soon because for the Devils the curtain may be coming down on this lockout shortened season a lot sooner that anyone expected.