The New Jersey Devils will be without Ilya Kovalchuk tonight. He's suffering what's believed to be a lower-back injury, and it's not necessarily all that surprising. Kovalchuk looked really, really bad in Game 1, registering zero shots on goal (rare for him) and playing just 21:20 in total ice time, three minutes under his season average.
He's listed as day-to-day, and we hope he gets better soon. Never want to see anybody injured, even if this doesn't appear to be all that serious.
The first reaction from our perspective is to joke: Are we really better off without Kovalchuk in their lineup?!
But really, the answer is pretty clear: Of course the Flyers are better off without Kovalchuk in the Devils lineup. Kovalchuk did indeed look horrible in Game 1, but he's still Ilya Kovalchuk. He's really good at hockey, and if he's healthy, he's a threat to put the puck in the back of the net.
For the Flyers, it's much easier to matchup against ... say, Tim Sestito than Kovalchuk. Or Peter Harrold, who took line rushes with the Devils' fourth unit in their morning skate today according to the Bergen Record.