My guess is that I chalked it up to bad luck, which was certainly a big part of why he struggled, but he didn't fully ever turn it around that year despite the clutch goal scoring. I don't think people were trying to spin it as a good year, but it's certainly not one. Nor was his 2012-13. I just feel like people focus on the Cup run, where Kovalchuk certainly played as well as can be expected given his injury, but I have no idea what the Devils are without Kovalchuk in those 3 years - they certainly would've spent the money on other things (at least in 2011-12), it's questionable on what.
2010-11 and 2012-13 weren't good years for sure. Like I said, the second half of 2010-11 at least gave the fans hope, and his numbers look good at a glance from 1/23/11 on (last 35 GP of 2010-11: 18 G, 16 A, 34 Pts, E)...this could be regarded as a turn-around, even with the insane ice-time he was getting. Basically, you had this from Kovy, as far as what his best Devils play consisted of:
final 35 GP of 2010-11: 35 GP, 18 G, 16 A, 34 Pts, E
2011-12: 77 GP, 37 G, 46 A, 83 Pts, -9
2011-12 playoffs: 23 GP, 8 G, 11 A, 19 Pts, -7
Yeah, in the 2011-12 playoffs, guy was playing through an injury, but he did his best to overcome it. The above numbers do look nice at a quick glance, and with Kovy, you get some pretty goals and dynamic ones, and those have a way of embedding themselves into the positive memory bank. But we also know that he needed to get a lot of ice time to put those numbers up. We also know that his shooting%s dropped a bit once he became a Devils (probably a result of facing less backups, among other things). And we also know that, though he DID improve his all-around game while he was here, he was always going to be a defensive liability.
You said it in another post...Kovy often got compared to other superstars in the league, but he really wasn't one as a Devil, when everything is taken into account. He was more of a guy who could provide dazzling moments and even terrific stretches (and all of 2011-2012 was a good year, even Kovy's +/- ratings and high ice time can detract from that season), but I think we were already seeing the beginnings of Kovy 2.0 for long stretches in 2010-11 and last season, and it wasn't pretty.