Happy Anniversary Ilya Kovalchuk
New York, NY- It was a year ago today that ‘The Sniper’ Ilya Kovalchuk became a New Jersey Devil after the squad made a trade for him with the Atlanta Thrashers. Since then Kovalchuk has signed one of the richest contracts in the history of the franchise while also having a very tough start to a season.
Like most people that follow hockey, I thought it was a good move for the Devils when they made the trade for ‘Kovy.’ The extended contract and the money that he made afterward was a head-scratcher to most, but like most this journalist was wanting to see what Kovalchuk would be able to do with the squad.
At the start of this season it felt like not that long ago a black cloud was hanging over both the Sniper as well as the rest of the New Jersey Devils squad, as they resided on the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. Since their early struggles both the Devils and Kovalchuk have found their way and have become the hottest team in the league.
New Jersey is so hot right now (no pun intended) that a lot of sports writers/bloggers/experts feel that the team has a legitimate chance at a spot in this years playoffs. A huge part of the success of the 2010-11 squad was the return of legendary coach Jacques Lemaire.
Even thought from what I have seen on TV so far from this ‘new’ second half Devils squad in the locker room after the game are a bunch of guys not admitting to anything yet, on the ice the story is a lot different. This scorching hot second half squad is playing with a swagger, along with the rediscovery of that patented defense that has brought them Stanley Cups.
Stay tuned to see if this Devils squad can continue to move on up the ladder of the Eastern Conference. Tonight the squad will host the Florida Panthers for 7:00 p.m. action at ‘The Rock’ and I’m sure the best present the Sniper would want to give not only himself, but his squad is two more points, and a shot at the 2011 NHL playoffs.