After Game 1 on Sunday, when asked if he was healthy, Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk responded with a “yes,” and abruptly ended his news conference.
Turns out, Kovalchuk is not healthy.
Kovalchuk did not make the trip to Philadelphia with the Devils and will not play in Game 2 on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center, as confirmed by New Jersey president Lou Lamoriello.
According to Lamoriello, Kovalchuk is day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no word as to Kovalchuk’s status for the rest of the series.
“Progressively, it’s to a point where it’s not positive for him or the team, if he’s not 100 percent” Lamoriello said. “These things happen at times and right now I have total confidence in that locker room and the players that are in that room.”
There are many theories as to what it could be, ranging anywhere from a lower-back problem to a groin issue that affects his skating. Lamoriello would only say that it has been bothering him since the middle of the Devils’ first round series against Florida.
Kovalchuk, of course, was held without a shot in Game 1 for the first time since Nov. 23, 2011.
Patrik Elias admitted that Kovalchuk looked different to him over the past few games.
Not having Kovalchuk is a good omen for the Flyers, since the Devils have yet to beat Philadelphia this season when Kovalchuk is held off the scoresheet. In the three games the Devils have beaten the Flyers, Kovalchuk has scored 8 points. He has one in their four losses.
Tim Sestito, the brother of Flyers injured forward Tom Sestito, is not replacing Kovalchuk in the lineup, as expected. With Jacob Josefson out with an injury still, defenseman Peter Harrold will move up to play right wing and rookie Adam Larsson will make his playoff debut on Tuesday night.
Harrold also took Kovalchuk's spot on the power play. Larsson was drafted four spots higher than Sean Couturier (No. 4 overall) in last summer's draft.
The Flyers have never lost a series (18-0) when leading two-games-to-none.
Parise – Elias – Clarkson
Ponikarovsky – Zajac – Zubrus
Sykora – Henrique – Bernier
Gionta – Carter – Harrold*
Larsson* – Volchenkov
Fayne – Greene
Salvador - Zidlicky
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers