Kovalchuk takes part in Thrashers practice

Let’s not bury the lead. Ilya Kovalchuk has just taken the practice ice for the Thrashers. The captain, who suffered a broken bone in his foot less than three weeks ago, is dressed and skating. Teammates  said he was a fast healer. He was expected to miss four to six weeks after the injury.

He is dressed in light blue practice jersey along with Nik Antropov and Max Afinogenov.

I will obviously get you more news as soon as practice is over.

When I got to practice injured defenseman Boris Valabik was also skating.

He, and fellow defenseman Noah Welch, were dressed in full gear and going through drills with strength coach Ray Bear before practice started. It’s the first I’ve seen Valabik on the ice since his surgery several weeks ago. He is also taking the ice for the practice, the lone player dressed in red practice jersey.

Valabik, as you recall, had ankle surgery in early October for a high sprain after taking a fall in practice. He was placed on injured reserve and thought to be out four to six weeks.  He was in a walking boot following the surgery but has been out of it the last two weeks.

Welch has been skating after offseason knee surgery, but this is the first I’ve seen him fully dressed and running through drills.

Here are the practice lines with Kovy skating:

Blue:  Kovalchuk-Antropov-Afinogenov

Orange: Kozlov-White-Little

Grey: Slater-Peverley-Armstrong

Yellow: Boulton-Reasoner-Thorburn

Evander Kane, who may have suffered a foot injury Sunday – as reported by you the bloggers – is not at practice.

I will return following interviews for an update. Wanted you to know the latest first.

52 comments Add your comment

Smoothie

November 10th, 2009
10:40 am

Thanks Chris for the update…glad Boris is a fast healer. We may be able to use him in spot duty once he’s healthy to increase our toughness quotient…especially during that brutal December sked grind.

And just to continue the conversation thread from the last blog:

That’s pretty interesting stuff about Pearl Jam…I don’t know how I don’t remember hearing about that. But then again, I hated the Seattle music scene and didn’t really pay attention to Pearl Jam until Eddie started taking on Ticketmaster. For that I will always respect them even if I’m not all that keen on their music.

If anyone wants to check out Les DaleS Hawerchuk (now that makes it a lot funnier), they are touring…albeit in Quebec:

http://www.lesdaleshawerchuk.com

Dwayne

November 10th, 2009
11:10 am

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, NOT BORIS.

GaVaHokie

November 10th, 2009
11:25 am

Valabik and Schubert could be an interesting pair to watch… here’s to hoping that could be a good combo.

HN

November 10th, 2009
11:25 am

Pops is on of the most under rated dmen..quietly gets the job done, certainly better than #25
Thought I would throw that out there

kracker

November 10th, 2009
11:55 am

FANTASTIC to hear that Kap Kovy is in full gear and practicing on the ice. Did I read that right, Chris? Kovalchuk is practicing w/ his line mates, meaning he’s ready to come back? Though, I guess it would be more like a test run to see how he reacts to stressing his foot, how much pain there is, etc.

Ditto for Valabik, great news that he is also healing ahead of schedule.

I’m sure you will tell us soon about Kane’s situation.

Midfield

November 10th, 2009
11:56 am

Valabik, Salmela and Popovic aren’t automatic lock-ins, but, having very different qualities, they’re handy to rotate. Thrashers play with different teams and need different match-ups. Veriety is a good thing, if used to one’s advantage.

Thrashers27

November 10th, 2009
12:00 pm

Let’s hope Kovy isn’t pushing it too much.

I really wish coach would slide Antro over to the wing and move Peever up to center the top line.

Chris Vivlamore

November 10th, 2009
12:30 pm

John Anderson says “95 percent chance” Kovalchuk will play Thursday.

Chris Vivlamore

November 10th, 2009
12:31 pm

Evander Kane having foot examined after being hit with a shot. Anderson didn’t seem to think it was serious.

Good news for a change

November 10th, 2009
12:32 pm

Viv, any news on Kane?

Good news for a change

November 10th, 2009
12:32 pm

and I clearly posted that before your post popped up….thanks

kracker

November 10th, 2009
12:50 pm

Ben’s twitter: “Anderson says he’s 95% sure Kovy will play Thursday. Only issue will if there’s a setback at practice tomorrow or thurs morning.”

What you would expect following an injury, there’s always the chance there is some swelling or too much soreness even for the determined player to bear.

The Earl of Bud

November 10th, 2009
1:00 pm

Wow, 95% chance Kapt comes back? Thanks Chris. I am not as excited about Boris though, but hey, I didn’t even know I was listening to Pearl Jam, so what do I know? Gotta go with MIdfield that we can insert Boris against certain teams that we want to pound with.

We are only 2 points out of the playoffs with a few games in hand. Ottawa also is out with games in hand but both the #7 and #8 are just in. We are starting to see a little separation between the contenders and pretenders (Florida, Carolina, Toronto) and as of right now we are actually one of the contenders in the race, so there is good news. We are over .500 with our captain coming back.

Jarndyce

November 10th, 2009
1:01 pm

I’ve said for years that Kovalchuk is one of the toughest players I’ve seen play the game. He was an incredibly high threshold for pain. That, or his desire to play simply outweighs the suffering. That said, I think it would take a medical stop to keep him off the ice on Thursday.

Dwayne

November 10th, 2009
1:08 pm

“”"”"”"Gotta go with MIdfield that we can insert Boris against certain teams that we want to pound with”"”"”".
Doris has not proved he will “pound” with anyone….do I need to remind everyone about the ball bashing he took from Cindy Crotchby????? And HELL NO, i will not ever forget.

Midfield

November 10th, 2009
1:27 pm

Dwayne, this is kind of insulting to blame Valabik for being hit with a stick between his legs from behind while he was entangled with another guy face to face. It happened right in front of me at Philips. The ugliest and the classiest act on the ice I’ve ever seen. I’m refering to the anoited one here. Valabik did not even see Crosby when it happened.

Midfield

November 10th, 2009
1:30 pm

Not the classiest, the most classless act, of course. Sorry.

Smoothie

November 10th, 2009
1:32 pm

Let’s hope the flight to NY doesn’t cause the foot to swell. I think that could make the game-time decision for Thursday very dicey to say the least. You know Kovy wants the spotlight more than ever right now and I doubt much will stop him at this point. With OV on the mend, he has a chance to wrest the goal-scoring lead away from him and show the world he is a Top 5 player on the planet. Go Kovy!!!

Thrashfan01

November 10th, 2009
1:34 pm

While it is great Kovy is skating and we need all the points this team can get rushing Kovy back before he is 100% would be nothing short of criminal. Kovy has a history of healing very fast but two weeks after a break on a weight bearing bone seems almost too fast.

Midfield

November 10th, 2009
1:37 pm

I doubt that both Ovy and Kovy will jeopardize their expected joint appearance at the Olympics, just so they play one more regular season game.

Smoothie

November 10th, 2009
1:49 pm

Assuming Kane is able to go against the Rain-jahs, how many here think the Kane – Pevs – Army line should be modified to reunite Slava with Ricky and Colby? Then move Kaner to a line with Greasy Reasy and Mad Max or Bryan Little? If Slava can’t get it going playing with Pevs and his ‘mates from the end of last season, then I don’t know what will.

Good news for a change

November 10th, 2009
1:52 pm

The thing is he can’t make the injury worse by playing…so all you “let’s not rush kovy back” people need to take note of that. It’s all about how much pain he can tolerate, and right now I’m not sure if the answer to that question is even human.

kracker

November 10th, 2009
1:55 pm

Thrashfan01 – I’m pretty sure it’s a non-weight bearing bone on the top of Kovy’s that was fractured. I don’t think there’s much way Kovy gets medically cleared for a hard practice today if it could set him back. Same for the next practices and for the game on Thursday.

kracker

November 10th, 2009
2:14 pm

Smoothie! – The players are glad you’re not the coach or they would be if they knew how much you want to change the lines up every day. It’s always something :) You should change your name to “The Mad Line Changer” lolol

They need as much continuity as possible, I believe, as we did have several new players come in this season. Antro, Max, Kane and Pavil, Pops on the D. That’s like 25% of the skaters. The injurys that usually occur throughout the season should provide you ample opportunities for tinkering with line or pairing combinations.

[...] the Thrashers hope to get scoring from some forwards, the good news is that Ilya Kovlachuk returned to practice this morning writes Chris Vivlamore of the Atlanta Journal [...]

The Earl of Bud

November 10th, 2009
2:49 pm

Dwayne, I am not at all saying that I think Boris is where he should be, I’ve posted many times just this season alone how sick it makes me that Tyler Myers is so far ahead of him in progress. But Boris did get in a fight with Goddard that game and that’s about what he is good for now, so use him for that. Besides, the fact that the refs didn’t even call a penalty on Crosby showed they weren’t going to let anyone near him, and they didn’t. So you can’t blame Boris for that. But if you want to insert him for a fight or two against the Leafs, fine with me.

Once we are all back to normal:

Kov-Antro-Little

Kane-Pev-Army

Koz-Wht-Max

Slat-Reas-Thor

Dwayne

November 10th, 2009
2:54 pm

OK…Boris has to fight, if he wants to stay on MY team. If he is in the box for 5 minutes, at least he can’t turn the puck over.

J.B.

November 10th, 2009
2:56 pm

Not really new information here, but an interesting take on Kovy’s contract situation from the KHL point of view…

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601079&sid=a6Ph5ZqAzqdM

Spud Webb

November 10th, 2009
3:10 pm

Tough to have a D man being our fighter, hurts the team much more than say a FOURTH LINE WING being in the box, THORBURN or BOLTS????????
Agreed that Boris is not coming along at a very good pace. I’d almost at this point have him back in chicago, get some more ice time. No need to have him here eating popcorn everynight next to kamal.
Fantastic news about Kovy skating.
Now November 10th and why isn’t he signed??????????? DON DONT F THIS UP.

The Earl of Bud

November 10th, 2009
3:12 pm

JB, interesting take, but if the guys making $500 thou aren’t getting paid on time, do you want to risk not getting paid on time when you are owed $10 mil? Besides, those guys don’t get half the bennys that NHL players get, not to mention Ovechkin, Malkin & Datsyuk are all staying over here so there is no way I could see Kovalchuk leaving for the KHL to take on an aged Jagr and Zhitnik (although there are some decent players there but this is where the big names are). I am more worried about another NHL coming into the picture, not another league.

The Earl of Bud

November 10th, 2009
3:17 pm

Spud Webb, do you hang out with Mookie Blaylock? JK. While conventional wisdom is to have your 4th liners do the dirty work, there are some dmen who make it work like O’Brien and there are a few in Carolina. And he would only be in against teams like the Leafs anyhow. But hey, if you want to send him to Chicago I won’t complain, but he can still be used in that role.

J.B.

November 10th, 2009
3:50 pm

Oh, I don’t think he’s going to bolt back to Russia either. I just found the article and thought y’all would like to see it. That’s all

The Real Thrash

November 10th, 2009
3:53 pm

Here are the top five teams in percentage of goal scoring from defensemen.

1. Nashville, 36.7 percent (11 of 30) 7-7-1

2. Atlanta, 34 percent (16 of 47) 7-6-1

3. Phoenix, 25.6 percent (11 of 43) 10-7-0

4. Chicago, 23.8 percent (10 of 42) 9-5-2

5. N.Y. Islanders, 23.3 percent (10 of 43) 6-6-5

* Through Sunday

Smoothie

November 10th, 2009
4:00 pm

kracker – so true, I am a bit schizo when it comes to posting line combos! For the most part, I’m trying to stimulate my own under-used mind and spark some conversation in the process. Sometimes it works and sometimes it is prolly perceived as silly.

One thing I can definitely say is that I HATE the Little White Russian line (love the nickname, but we need a different Russian…Antro perhaps?) because they just aren’t getting it done. There isn’t enough size and grit in that trio and they have a hard time establishing a forecheck or mainting puck possession. If they get a scoring chance, it’s usually on the rush and one-and-done.

We already have one line (pretty much any line with Kovy) that will almost invariably give up more shots than they take, but Kovy’s ability to score goals efficiently negates that worry. But even that line has shown the ability to forecheck and hold onto the puck this year. I have no issues with the make-up of that line, but I want to see Little play his natural position as I think Antro is a better goal-scorer from the wing and he can still crash the net or feed Kovy from the wing.

I am most befuddled by the fact Peverley isn’t centering Kozlov and Armstrong as the signing of Afinogenov has screwed that up and I wonder if JA will ever drop Mad Max from the Top 6. I love Max’s speed and he can be a nifty passer, but he can’t finish. Thusly, I am desperate for 3 things to happen:

1) Max getting moved permanently to the 3rd line RW

2) Peverley staying at C and preferably between Slava and Colby

3) Little playing the pivot because Antropov is dreadful at F/O

Midfield

November 10th, 2009
4:20 pm

Earl, they did call a minor penalty on Crosby. The outcry had been that, being the third man in a scrum, he should have gotten an automatic game misconduct. I just watched the video – there was no stick involved, as I remembered (a couple of years from now it may be a wrench or a baseball bat); Valabik was wrestling with Orpik, when Crosby wacked his head with a fist from behind and then proceeded to punch his crotch.

Joshgekko

November 10th, 2009
4:31 pm

Midfield – And thus was born Syndy Crotchby

Smoothie

November 10th, 2009
5:05 pm

@ C-Viv — is the team practicing tomorrow at the Ice Forum or are they flying out tonite? I’ve gotten the impression they will practice at the normal time (11 am) tomorrow, but just want to make sure before I drive all the way up there for a look-see. Thanks!

The Earl of Bud

November 10th, 2009
5:09 pm

JB, I didn’t think you did believe he will leave for the KHL, that’s why I started with “interesting take”. I was counterpointing the article, not you. Again, interesting to read nonetheless.

Smoothie, just stick Max back with Koz/White. It’s still a white Russian, a double one at that, so you still have the nickname (just note a little one). And with Peverley centering Kane & Army you still have the AK-47 line. Those two lines realistically flip-flop and the AK-47 is your 2nd and kahlua/white Russian is your 3rd. Solves all problems and you at least have 2 lines that can score. Top line you can just have Little take the FO (he is almost getting to 50% while Antro is still around 40%) and then they switch spots for the rest of the shift. Think about it, it happens all the time when centers get thrown out of the FO for various reasons.

Midfield, I was referring to the retribution that would normally come later in the game which never happened, not the penalty that should have been called right then and there. I did however hear a legend that Crosby was bending over changing a flat tire for a school bus when he was hit in the gonads with a tire iron by some bad player from another evil team. He went on to score the winning goal in the shootout that night after already collecting a hat trick and saving the school children.

Chris Vivlamore

November 10th, 2009
5:09 pm

Smoothie: Don’t head to Duluth. Thrashers practice tomorrow (Wednesday) at Philips Arena and then leave for New York. With the practice at Philips, I don’t think it’s open to public.

The Earl of Bud

November 10th, 2009
5:24 pm

Smoothie/Chris, since 9/11 Philips has never been open during the day so I would be quite surprised if it was ever open to the public again during the day.

Hotrod

November 10th, 2009
5:33 pm

Kovy looked great at practice. Did not notice any favoring to the right foot. His acceleration toward the goal was near normal. Hands are great as ever. Looks like he has a carbon fiber protective shield laced on the top of the skate.

What a great Captain!

Brendan

November 10th, 2009
5:38 pm

Great news on Kovalchuk’s early return!

Sam

November 10th, 2009
6:11 pm

Totally agree Hotrod. What a great captain! We are so lucky to ahve him.

Re-sign his butt, Waddell. ASAP.

Smoothie

November 10th, 2009
7:27 pm

Thanks Chris for saving me the exasperation of a wasted trip to Duluth!

Much obliged!!

Dwayne

November 10th, 2009
8:40 pm

Doris is to blame!!!…why? He had the rest of the game to smack Cindy and did not. Someone does that to me and i’m going after him. So what if he gets a game misconduct. He aint worth a crap anyway. Oversized version of Jim Slater.

Dwayne

November 10th, 2009
8:41 pm

I know it doesn’t matter to Doris, but I lost all respect for him/her.

JAmes_kovyboy from MTL

November 10th, 2009
10:39 pm

why didnt we pick up Micheal Nylander?

JAmes_kovyboy from MTL

November 10th, 2009
10:41 pm

why arent we playing kozzie with pevs?

Tony C.

November 11th, 2009
1:36 am

We already have a playmaking european who looks like Father Time has caught up to him… That’s why we didn’t pounce on Nylander. Also, he’s ’spensive. Save that loochie for the stud defenseman available at the deadline.

Midifeld

November 11th, 2009
12:05 pm

Dwayne, Valabik is trying to make it in this league. It’s quite obvious that the league has the list of untouchables topped by Crosby. Personally, not only I am appalled by that, I am double appalled that such a classless punk has been nominated to be the face of the league. But, unless you spit at the traffic cops when they pull you over for going 40 miles in the 35 mile zone to give you $200 speeding ticket, don’t expect guys like Valabik to risk their career for a bit of justice. He’s not to blame. The league is.