The NHL announced Thursday that Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov will be suspended four games for an elbow to the head of Bruins forward Brad Marchand roughly 15 minutes into the second period of Wednesday’s game. The full video from Brendan Shanahan is below:
The suspension means Volchenkov will half of the Devils’ remaining eight regular-season games.
It’s one game more than I thought he could get, but I’m not surprised the NHL went up to four after watching the video. Shanhan harped on a few things. One, Volchenkov extended his elbow to the point where it became “reckless elbow contact to the head” of Marchand. Two, Marchand tried to avoid the hit and turned his head, but it doesn’t change the fact that Volchenkov didn’t pursue the puck and turned what could’ve been a legal body check into an illegal elbow. Three, Volchenkov was in control of the play and in control of his body and clearly pursued the elbow to the head instead of playing the body. Shanahan also referenced Volchenkov’s prior suspension and Marchand’s injury (likely concussion) as factors, so at least the NHL admits a player’s injury status affects how they rule. When you watch the video, it’s hard to disagree with the four-game ban, which is often the case with Shanny’s home movies.
The key here for the Devils is being able to field six legit NHL-caliber defensemen over a CRUCIAL four-game stretch. The Devils will face two non-playoff teams (Flyers and Panthers) but that’s after playing the Senators on Friday and Maple Leafs on Monday. With Bryce Salvador banged up and currently owning a very bruised wrist, the Devils might be forced to go with Adam Larsson (which is fine) and Peter Harrold (which is probably not fine) against two good teams. It’s just another hurdle this team has to overcome when they’re already four points out of a playoff spot with two teams to jump to get to eighth place.
Bryce Salvador left Thursday night’s game only minutes into the first period after taking a hip check along the boards. Salvador’s right hip appeared to be the principal point of contact and he could barely put pressure on the leg as he glided off the ice. Salvador went directly to the locker room.
The Devils dressed seven defensemen tonight so they’ll be OK if Salvador can’t return.
UPDATE: According to Tom Gulitti, Salvador just returned to the bench.
Salvadoro returning to bench now.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) April 04, 2013
It’s worth noting that Salvador has been dealing with an upper-body injury and Salvador has acknowledged it’s something he’ll have to play with all season.
UPDATE 2: Bryce Salvador was back on the ice for a shift midway through the first period. That’s one heck of a fast return. I imagine he’ll be pretty limited for the rest of the night.
Ilya Kovalchuk lost his edge and went hard into the boards Saturday night. He got up and was in immediate pain, skating over the bench while clutching his shoulder. Devils GM Lou Lamoriello addressed the media Sunday afternoon regarding Kovalchuk’s injury and said the Devils’ franchise player won’t need surgery but will miss at least two to four weeks.
Lamoriello said initial prognosis is Kovalchuk will miss 2-4 weeks. He's having MRI right now. X-ray was negative.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) March 24, 2013
Lamoriello said Kovalchuk will not require surgery.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) March 24, 2013
As I wrote on Twitter, it’s not a deathblow, but it’s close. Losing Kovy for at least the next two weeks will put the Devils in a very precarious position at a time when they’re only two points from falling out of the playoffs. The fact that he won’t need surgery is a massive win for the Devils and it’s entirely possible Kovy could be back in two to three weeks. However, if he returns at the EXACT two-week mark of the recovery, there would only be 10 games left and I’m sorry, but that injury did not look like a two-week injury, not from his reaction. We’ll have to see what the MRI says for Kovy but my guess is if he returns this year it will be in the final week of the season to get ready for the playoffs — if the Devils make it.
Ilya Kovalchuk left Saturday’s game against the Panthers after sliding shoulder first into the endboards. Kovalchuk was skating below the goal line and lost his edge. He fell slid into the boards. Kovalchuk eventually got up but was in clear pain and favoring his right shoulder. He skated off the ice doubled over and went directly to the locker room.
As of the 12:25 mark of the third, Kovalchuk had yet to return from the locker room. Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice tweeted out a worrisome memory for Devils fans:
Kovalchuk hitting boards there reminded me a little of Josefson last year when he broke his collar bone.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) March 24, 2013
Safe to say, it’s probably the one injury the Devils could not survive.
Matteau netted just one goal and had two assists in 17 games with New Jersey. The 19-year old was a healthy scratch for three straight games before Saturday and had not recorded a point since New Jersey’s loss in Buffalo on March 2.
As of 5:30 Sunday, the Devils had not announced any forwards to replace Matteau on their active roster.
UPDATE: (6:43 p.m)– The Devils public relations released a statement confirming Matteau’s return to Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL.
I asked Albany Devils’ coach Rick Kowalsky if he knew whether his club was losing a forward with the move, and he said “I have no idea.”
Jacob Josefson has been an Albany scratch the last three games. I’m not sure if that pertains to this scenario, but it may.
We kind of thought New Jersey would be without Loktionov tonight– less than 24 hours from leaving the game in Philadelphia. Harri Pesonen will make his NHL debut and play on a line with Patrik Elias and David Clarkson.
Whether Matteau for Barch is injury related, or if Pete DeBoer is simply concerned with goal scoring without Loktionov, it’s good to get the youngster back in the lineup after a three-game absence.
You want some more good news Devils fans?
Lou Lamoriello said Martin Brodeur (back) skated this morning, but it's still going to be a little while before he's ready to play.— Tom Gulitti (@TGfireandice) March 12, 2013
You must crawl before you can walk, right? The Devils have been coy on Brodeur’s status he was scratched before his Feb. 24 start against Winnipeg. But Brodeur can’t play unless he can skate and getting him on the ice is of paramount importance.
The Devils play three games in four days before the Rangers come to town a week from today. My guess is Brodeur returns for the rivalry game at Prudential Center.
Butler, who registered only two points in 16 games, was placed on waivers Sunday.
Butler had seen his ice time cut drastically the last two games. The forward, who signed with New Jersey last offseason after a three-year stint in Ottawa, was a minus-1 in only 5:19 of the Devils’ 4-3 loss Saturday in Buffalo.
If Butler clears waivers, Monday, he will be sent to Albany.