Kovalchuk played through back injury

June, 13, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils coach Pete DeBoer confirmed the obvious on Wednesday, revealing that star sniper Ilya Kovalchuk was limited with a back injury throughout the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Kovalchuk was scratched for one game during the Flyers series in the Eastern Conference semifinals and, although he led the Devils with 19 points, appeared to be playing through a lingering issue this postseason.

"It was quite a bit under 100 percent, I can tell you that," DeBoer said. "It's a back injury. It's not like a broken bone where you have a real handle on it. But it wasn't close to 100 percent."

Kovalchuk declined to discuss the injury both after Monday night's season-ending loss to the Kings and then again Wednesday.

"It doesn't make any sense to talk about it now. It's all over," he said. "You know, it's a bad excuse. I don't think one guy on the ice was 100 percent healthy, so you've got to take care of yourself the next couple of months and be ready for next year."

When asked if his back issue required any offseason medical attention (i.e. surgery), he responded, "Hopefully not."
Katie Strang covers the NHL for ESPN.com. She is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.
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