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Has Ilya Kovalchuk Changed For The Better?

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I don't normally link to my blog articles, but I figured some here might be interested and it would be a pain to re-create the tables here, so here's a link:

http://drivingplay.blogspot.com/2012/03/has-ilya-kovalchuk-changed-for-better.html

I think via the eye test, Kovalchuk has improved and we're going to see some of his shots and some of his linemates' shots go in, but the numbers aren't quite there yet. Still, I don't see how he's going to be that effective going forward with a 10% shooting percentage - that has got to improve.

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Without a doubt. His in-zone defense still isn't there yet, but in the neutral zone I've noticed him getting in lanes, forcing turnovers. His stickwork looks better as well.

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I think he's also playing in a system where the plays are more spread around, rather than being channeled through just one attack guy. I.e. I presume he gets less lone-sniper chances with NJD than he used to with ATL.

I love Kovy's attitude and heart, and he's a huge part of our team now. When he picks the puck up in center ice and turns on the afterburners, it must terrify defenses. And despite being asked to play on his non-natural wing, I think he makes a great first line with Zach and Henrique.

Two things I'd like him to change? 1 - on the PP - don't go all static on us and try to wind up for the big slapshot. I would ask him to mix it up much more, going low onto the goal-line, getting into the middle of the box and so on. In fact, some of his best moments on PP have been when he swapped sides with Foster to draw the play out. So get unpredictable please.

And 2 - chase back hard and clear out the slot. He's guilty of cruising back on occasion, and not picking up either the lead threat or the trailer.

These are not big things to fix though, and would make a big impact.

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He hasn't learned how to give and go yet. Other than that, I think he's improving his overall game. He just has to spit it out once in a while while on the move.

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He hasn't learned how to give and go yet. Other than that, I think he's improving his overall game. He just has to spit it out once in a while while on the move.

Have you seen him and Elias on the PP?

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He hasn't learned how to give and go yet. Other than that, I think he's improving his overall game. He just has to spit it out once in a while while on the move.

The one against the Panthers is my personal favorite :evil:

Edited by Zubie#8

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I think petey is referring to Kovalchuk in the neutral zone. I think that line started with Parise doing most of the puck carrying, which is part of why it was so horrible at the outset. We're not seeing that much of Kovalchuk as a trailer - that's where he's a lethal goal scorer. It seems like Henrique barely touches the puck at all anymore.

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Thanks, Tri. I mean on a regular basis. I think the question was what did we think, not what Zubie 8 thinks of what we think. Sorry Zub. I was just hanging there.

Edited by peteyvegas

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Thanks, Tri. I mean on a regular basis. I think the question was what did we think, not what Zubie 8 thinks of what we think. Sorry Zub. I was just hanging there.

Oh gotcha :cheers:

Whenever I think of the give n go I think of scoring chances around the oppositions net. I understand what your saying now. Zajac was great with Kovy last year, he entered the zone and waited for the trailing Kovalchuk and Kovy could just pick his spots.

Edited by Zubie#8

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He's never going to be one of the top defensive forwards in the NHL, but we don't need him to be. As long as he backchecks and plays a solid defensive zone game (which he has generally done this season), he should be ok. Also, he's not trying to skate around and through all 5 opposing players on the ice when he collects the puck in our zone anymore, and has learned to use the outlet pass with much more success this season. Huge improvements all around for him this year.

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He's never going to be one of the top defensive forwards in the NHL, but we don't need him to be. As long as he backchecks and plays a solid defensive zone game (which he has generally done this season), he should be ok.

Yep exactly. Just clear out the slot though (min requirement for every forward). A full back check is the next level (Zach style), but that may detract from what we want him to do.

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Going by my own eyes and without any advanced stats, I say yes. He has made tremendous strides here.

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His defensive game is improving, but his goalscoring is suffering from becoming a Devil and playing RW. I'd still prefer to see him on a line with a more traditional playmaking center, but as long as the team gets the job done I guess it's all good. As mentioned above I also think it would be beneficial if someone else on his line was able to carry the puck into the offensive zone instead of him every time..

It's fair to have high expectations for a player of his caliber (and paycheck).. But I don't understand all the hate he's been getting from this board. The MacLean ordeal aside, he's still a point pr game player with a lot of heart. He was a beast the second half of last season and his been a beast this season. By far our best offensive player. Anyone actually watching the games instead of spreadsheets can see this.

That said; We got some wonderful samples of his "old Atlanta-style one-timers" today, hopefully it's gonna be a new trend! :D He's an exciting player to watch every time he's on the ice and I am thrilled that he's a Devil for years to come.

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This team was trying to find its way in the first half of the season and fighting some injuries. If you want to get a better idea of how well kovy has played, then lets start after the first 30 or so games, because thats when Parise found his rhythm and alot of other things started to click. You'll see his stats are very nice.

Since January till today (including the hat trick :)):

30 GP - 17 G - 20A - 37 PTS - (+4)

= 82 GP - 46G - 55A - 101 PTS - +11

If Parise comes back next season, the defensive minded offensive Kovy can prolly reach his pinnacle.

Edited by Anhkheg

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Kovy will be an MVP type player by next season. Kovy has become a solid backchecker. He plays D and is a lethal offensive threat. He is quickly becoming a great weapon.

He hasn't learned how to give and go yet. Other than that, I think he's improving his overall game. He just has to spit it out once in a while while on the move.

This comment is problematic not so much for being wrong or right but for the simple need to under appreciate just for the sake of sounding being esoteric.

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One big difference from last year to this is that he's getting his shots. He had 245 in 81 games last season...in his 62 GP this season he's already at 251 and counting. He'd have 36 goals this season if he was shooting at his career 14.3%.

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Pretty good showing last night against the Tavares line! he still looks somewhat out of place covering the ice in our end, but at LEAST HE'S THERE IN OUR END at the right time now. there was one point where he went in really deep and was standing next to martys left side, he looked back and he had this "wtf do I do here" look on his face, I got a chuckle out of that

and I loved the on-ice interview where he commented on his one-timers, "I USED TO be able to do that"

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and I loved the on-ice interview where he commented on his one-timers, "I USED TO be able to do that"

I think that's a healthy attitude too. He knows he needs to be better, but isn't beating himself up over it (adding more pressure)...

His goals will come.

Kovalcup! :P

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One big difference from last year to this is that he's getting his shots. He had 245 in 81 games last season...in his 62 GP this season he's already at 251 and counting. He'd have 36 goals this season if he was shooting at his career 14.3%.

Agreed - some of that is ice time related, some of it is him just playing better. I don't think we can expect 14.3% anymore, although Kovalchuk is weird in that he typically shoots better at even strength - I think back then he was flying the zone a lot more.

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Agreed - some of that is ice time related, some of it is him just playing better. I don't think we can expect 14.3% anymore, although Kovalchuk is weird in that he typically shoots better at even strength - I think back then he was flying the zone a lot more.

His shooting%s have all been lower since coming to NJ...I think 13% or less is what we can probably expect going forward. Like you and others pointed out, unless we look it up, we also don't know how many backup goalies he was facing as a Thrasher...he's likely facing tougher goalies now.

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Well broad brush strokes me says: Kovalchuk is starting to see gains from the time and energy he's been investing in becoming a more complete player. Of course he's not there but I think the forward momentum is getting apparent. I think he's just getting into a zone where, I personally hope, he's poised to break-out. Of course I think it's a mental place he's getting more and more secure with. I think he'll have the nerve to take it up a notch. That has always been my hope for him. But it's my hope for everyone - it's just the way I think.

well -- in all honesty I dont think Kovalchuk is the break-out kind of guy. I think he's steady and will continue slowly progressing forward at the same rate he has been. I say slowly but in fact it's a fast clip, you see improvements in half seasons chunks - at least that's what it feels like to me.

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Kovalchuk shoots better at even strength

This is what can happen to your brain if you read to much statistics. :P

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This is what can happen to your brain if you read to much statistics. :P

Wouldn't that just be factual?

It's assumptions you make from statistics that could lead you to say arguable things.

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Wouldn't that just be factual?

It's assumptions you make from statistics that could lead you to say arguable things.

I think it's unclear language. Kovalchuk scores goals on a higher percentage of his shots at even strength than on the 5 on 4 power play - this is pretty much an indisputable fact. The reasoning is simple enough, he's playing the point and often shooting from farther away from the net than he is at even strength. This doesn't mean he shoots 'worse', but according to the numbers, he does.

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