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To put it lightly, Ilya Kovalchuk was simply a liability for the Devils in Game 1. He did account for an assist on Travis Zajac's 2nd period goal, but that did not make up for his severely poor play in the contest.
At many points during the game, Kovalchuk threw passes aimlessly up the boards in the defensive zone, leading to uncontested shots by the Flyer's defenseman. He was a minus 2 in the game.
No. 17's most notable mistake came on the Flyer's first goal of the game, in which he fired a misguided shot wide of the netminder Bryzgalov. The puck rattled behind the Philadelphia net all the way to Jakub Voracek on the boards, who then passed it to a wide open Danny Briere for a score on a breakaway.
Overall, Kovalchuk's play seemed very disheartened. He did not pursue the puck with much determination and at points looked injured and very slow. Even with the puck Kovalchuk did not make the right decisions; he would over-stick-handle or make errant passes.
The Russian superstar must step up and show the sparks of brilliance he did in the regular season and in New Jersey's first round match up with the Florida Panthers. If the 29 year-old left winger does not begin to play at a high-level he may be on the golf course sooner rather than later.