New Jersey Devils’ million dollar man, Ilya Kovalchuk has found his scoring touch again across the pond in Europe. Kovalchuk is representing his native Russia in the 2013 World Championships which are being played in Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden this year. The tournament which features teams from North America as well as Europe began on May 3. A gold medalist will be crowned on Sunday, May 19 in Stockholm.
Russia is the defending World Champion, having won the gold medal last year. Kovalchuk did not compete in last year’s tournament since the Devils were in the postseason.
Kovy has been on a tear for Team Russia with five goals in three games, recording a hat trick in a 4-1 defeat of Germany on May 5. The Russians are still undefeated after wins against Latvia and Team USA as well.
The Russians were the victors against the Americans by a score of 5-3 yesterday with Kovalchuk notching a goal and an assist. Currently, Team USA’s record in 2-1 with wins over Austria and Latvia. Russia and the US are both in Group H which is playing in the Finnish capital. Group S in competing in Sweden.
Kovalchuk finished a disappointing year with the Devils with 11 goals and 37 assists in 37 games. He was on the sidelines for 11 games because of an injury he suffered to his right shoulder when he went crashing into the boards on March 23 in a match up against the Florida Panthers. That would be the beginning of the end for the Devils who would lose the next 10 games in a row, tying a franchise worst record.
By the time Kovalchuk returned to the lineup on April 20, the club was pretty much out of the playoff picture.
However, the future looks bright for Team Russia who also won gold in 2008 and 2009. The last time the American team won a medal in the World Championship was in 2004 when they took home the bronze. 1960 was the last time an American team was awarded the gold.
Kovalchuk has always taken pride in representing his country in international competitions such as the Worlds and the Olympics. He has repeatedly said that if NHL players are not allowed to compete in 2014 in Sochi, Russia, he will still do so regardless of what the league decides which is a sentiment fellow countryman Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has echoed.
A decision has not yet been announced as to whether or not the NHL will allow its players to participate in the 2014 Olympics since it requires the league to shut down its season for three weeks.