Washington Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk told the media after the team’s practice on Saturday that he thinks that this Stanley Cup Playoff tournament will “be a little different” but had fun being on an underdog team in 2012 with the New Jersey Devils, who lost in six games to the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Final as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference. He feels that his team is hungry, [has] have guys with experience. We’re excited to start.”
The 37-year-old, who came the closest to winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 with the Devils, called it “the toughest trophy to win” and said it was not easy to get into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. “We’ll go through [the tournament] as a family and go from there,” he said.
“Guys [are] excited to be back. … We’re all excited,” Kovalchuk told the media. He feels like the team’s round-robin games, which determine tournament seeding in the Eastern Conference and begin on Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning (4 PM ET, NBCSN nationally, NBC Sports Washington locally), are still important and that the Capitals will have to be ready even though the games are not do-or-die.
Kovalchuk told the media that the Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto “is all good,” but “everyone will be on their own page” when the puck drops for real on Monday.
On getting time with his teammates under his belt and going over some on-ice strategies with head coach Todd Reirden during training camp after getting acquired by the Montreal Canadiens on February 23, Kovalchuk said, “it’s important, it was way more comfortable.” The Russian played just seven regular-season games for the Capitals but recorded a goal and four points during that time.
“I’m excited. I’m just going to be myself, and we’re going to play,” he concluded with.
By Harrison Brown