On Tuesday, Washington Capitals forward Ilya Kovalchuk spoke to the media on a Zoom call from Hotel X in Toronto. He discussed how well Phase 4 has gone and how exciting it is to get back into playoff action after eight years.
“I actually like afternoon games,” Kovalchuk said on the recent 3 PM start times. He appreciates the extra sleep with no morning skate occurring on game day, and said the team doing is “good” on the mid-afternoon puck drop.
The NHL announced on Monday afternoon that no players have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the past week. From August 2- August 8, 7,245 tests were administered among all 24 teams in the second week of Phase 4 of the league’s Return to Play Plan.
With the health and safety protocols put into place in the league’s plan, Kovalchuk believes everyone’s mentality has been “great”. All players are remaining cautious and mindful and washing hands frequently. “Everybody’s doing an unbelievable job so far,” Kovalchuk said. “Hopefully, it’s going to be the same the rest of the way.”
The 37-year-old Russian has not played in a playoff series since the 2012 Stanley Cup Final as a member of the New Jersey Devils. “It [took] me eight years, so sometimes you’ve got to wait a little bit,” Kovalchuk said. He called this postseason play a “great opportunity”, adding, “I think we have a great team. Everybody [is] very excited. We’re all ready. It’s going to be a long and tough road.”
Game 1 of the Capitals- New York Islanders first-round series begins Wednesday on NBCSN nationally and NBC Sports Washington locally at 3 PM ET.
By Della Young