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Kovalchuk to miss second straight game, calls injury “serious”

Washington Capitals v New Jersey Devils

NEWARK, NJ - MARCH 18: Ilya Kovalchuk #17 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center on March 18, 2011 in Newark, New Jersey. The Capitals shut out the Devils 3-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Slightly troubling news out of New Jersey this morning as the Devils prepare to host Carolina on Tuesday. Second-leading scorer Ilya Kovalchuk, who hasn’t played or practiced since straining a leg muscle last Thursday against Philadelphia, is still struggling with the injury and likely won’t suit up against the ‘Canes.

“If there’s a miraculous recovery overnight (he’ll play). I’m not going to paint myself in a corner,” Devils head coach Peter DeBoer told Rich Chere of the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “But the fact he wasn’t out there today probably speaks to where he’s at.”

Kovalchuk told reporters his injury was serious, but later clarified his comments.

“I missed a game, so it is serious. I hate missing games,” he said. “It is a little serious but I hope it’s going to go away soon.”

Kovalchuk really does hate to be held out. Since missing the final 16 of his rookie season with a shoulder injury, he’s been a regular presence on the lineup card, never missing more than five games in a single year. And you can understand why he’d hate missing time this season -- DeBoer is playing him over 25 minutes a night, the most amongst all NHL forwards.

In his stead, the Devils are shuffling players around. Patrik Elias is now manning the PP point (along with Adam Larsson) while the first line versus Winnipeg on Saturday featured Zach Parise, Adam Henrique and David Clarkson.