Ovechkin's Laugh-gate called joke

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:07 AM ET

NEWARK, N.J. — Ilya Kovalchuk doesn’t know what to make of Alexander Ovechkin’s “Laugh-gate” fiasco.

Eventually, Kovalchuk said it’s a joke, but he doesn’t find it funny.

The New Jersey Devils winger certainly doesn’t understand the hue and cry about Ovechkin being spotted laughing with him after

Kovalchuk and the Devils posted a 5-0 win over the Washington Capitals Monday at the Prudential Center.

Images of a player laughing within minutes of an old-fashioned butt-kicking invokes thoughts of someone who accepts losing, but Kovalchuk was quick to kibosh that theory.

“Everybody’s got their own opinion, but I’ve never seen a guy care more about his teammates than him,” Kovalchuk said of Ovechkin.

“It’s a joke. They’re in first place in the league and some things happen.

“We didn’t see each other for a couple of months and we just talked.”

As storms go, this is one that will blow over in a hurry.

There’s little doubt Ovechkin, who assisted on all three of his team’s goals in Wednesday night’s 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, will soon be back on top of the world.

When Kovalchuk will enjoy the same success remains anybody’s guess.

Heading into Wednesday night’s clash with the Calgary Flames, Kovalchuk was in a personal swoon with just one goal and four points in 12 games.

Kovalchuk did score the shootout winner in the Devils’ 2-1 victory over the Flames, but his season so far is not exactly what one would expect of a star who signed a 15-year, US$100-million contract last summer.

“I think everybody’s disappointed with the way we are in the standings, first of all. Personally, I know I can be much better.

“That’s what I’m trying to do,” said the 27-year-old.

The question keeps coming at him: Why the struggles?

Is the weight of expectations from signing such a deal — which concluded a summer-long saga that also included a 17-year pact rejected by the league and then quashed by an arbitrator?

Is it the Devils more defensive system compared to what he had all those years with the Atlanta Thrashers?

“You can find a lot of excuses, but it’s all on me, and nobody’s going to feel bad for anybody,” Kovalchuk said. “I’m on the ice, do the plays, and I need to work hard and put more pucks in the net.”

The Devils must be worried, but are secure in the knowledge Kovalchuk has six straight seasons with 40 or more goals, and two of them were 52-tally campaigns.

“He had some opportunities last game, made some nice plays and nice passes. It’s gonna come and if he keeps playing hard and playing the right way, I think it’ll happen,” head coach John MacLean said.


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