The New Jersey Devils will have to make their playoff push without top winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who will miss up to a month with a shoulder injury suffered Saturday night.
Kovalchuk is the team’s second leading scorer with 10 goals and 17 assists. But his solid all-around play makes him New Jersey’s most valuable forward.
He plays in all game situations and leads all NHL forwards in playing time with 25:13 per game.
So how does the team adapt? The addition of former 21-goal scorer Matt D’Agostini in a trade with the St. Louis Blues helps some. Winger Harri Pesonen will come up from the AHL to lend a hand.
In another week, Dainus Zubrus (wrist) could come back from the injured list. But none of these guys is a Kovalchuk.
“When you lose your top player and top point getter, it's something that's hard on a team's morale, especially for the first few games,” goaltender Martin Brodeur told the Newark Star-Ledger. “But life has to go on. It's important that guys take it in their own hands to fill the void.
“A lot of our offense goes through him, especially the power play. It'll be an adjustment. It gives opportunities to other players.”