UPDATE: Let’s sum up this whole crazy 24 hours on the Ilya Kovalchuk ordeal. He is back to being a game-time decision, one that Thrashers coach John Anderson’s gut thinks will play, tonight against the Rangers. Kovlachuk left before the start of Wednesday’s practice with soreness in his foot. This after Anderson told me he was 95 percent sure Kovalchuk would return from his broken foot. Anderson called him a game-time decision. Hours later the organization said he would not play and was not making the trip to New York. Hours after that we discovered that Kovlachuk did travel with the team to New York. Now he skated and may return tonight after all. Thus completing the full circle back to where we started. But what a trip.
UPDATE II: Kovalchuk and Kane in the lineup tonight. Jim Slater, Anssi Salmela and Spencer Machacek are the scratches.
I’ll leave the original blog below for those who care.
So we wake up this morning to find out that Ilya Kovalchuk has indeed traveled with the team to New York and there is a chance – although I’m told a small one – that he could play tonight against the Rangers.
I’ll check in after they have their morning skate and see if anything has changed. Thrashers skate at 11 a.m. so I should know more around lunch time.
Stay tuned for the lastest episode of ‘How Kovy’s Foot Turns.’ Either way it looks like he will return in the next few days, so that’s sooner than expected.
Of news I’m more certain about, I’m told that Johan Hedberg will get the start tonight in goal. He’s coming off the shootout win over St. Louis on Sunday. Remember you heard it here first.
Since I’m working on my Sunday notes column this morning, I’ll share a couple of tidbits with you:
* Here’s coach John Anderson’s take on Nik Antropov being without a goal this season: “We talked to him about shooting more. He had like six or seven shots on net last game. His total [for the year] is 18. That’s my point to him. I think he got the message. The other thing we talked about is he’s a little stationary in front of the net. I want him in front of the net but a little bit more mobile so that any pucks that kick out, he’s not starting from a standing stop; he’s got a little movement so he gets to loose pucks first.”
* I came across this interesting note that you may have known, but I didn’t. Before Max Afinogenov’s first season as a rookie in Buffalo, his linemate on the AHL’s Rochester Americans was …. Thrashers assistant coach Randy Cunneyworth. It was Cunneyworth’s final year as a player/player coach. “I just knew to get him the puck,” Cunnyworth said.
* The off-ice Q&A will be with Eric Boulton. His hockey hero growing up? Wendel Clark.
We should have a good run here the next couple of weeks. Thrashers have five straight, and eight of the next 10, games at home. So we’ll have daily and game coverage during the run. Also, I’m working on a couple bigger stories. I talked with Pavel Kubina for a feature, I’m wrapping up a story on the Art of the Faceoff and I started reporting for a story on hockey wives. Talked to Mark Popovic’s wife about travelling all the way to Russia to continue his career.
Hope this at least gives you something to chew on before tonight’s game. Stay tuned.