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Atlanta's Kovalchuk a game-time decision

by Dave Lozo /
NEW YORK -- Thrashers superstar Ilya Kovalchuk will be a game-time decision for Thursday night's contest against the Rangers at Madison Square Garden, but coach John Anderson believes his captain will return to the lineup for the game.

Kovalchuk's status has bounced between "95 percent sure he's playing" to "definitely not playing" to what he and the team are now calling a "game-time decision."

The Russian sniper has missed six games with a broken bone in his foot, but he took part in the team's morning skate Thursday at MSG and said he felt much better compared to Wednesday.

"I feel very good," Kovalchuk told, as he exited the Garden in a walking boot on his injured right foot. "I feel better than yesterday and it's going to be a game-time decision. I am going to take warm-up and then we'll see."

Anderson said the team is having a hard time keeping up with his captain's yo-yoing status.

"It's hard on the training staff. They have to keep switching the colors of the sweaters," Anderson joked. "It's part of hockey; it's part of sports. My gut feeling is he probably will play, but you never know how you're going to feel after you've been out there (at the morning skate)."

Kovalchuk showed no ill effects of the injury Thursday while taking part fully in the team's morning skate. He looked comfortable and pain-free on the ice, showing he was able to turn and skate backward while displaying a rush of speed during drills.

"I don't feel limited," Kovalchuk said. "If I felt limited I would let someone else play. If I'm not going to be 100 percent then I better stay off the ice."

The Thrashers have gone 3-3-0 in the six games since Kovalchuk took a slap shot off his foot against San Jose on Oct. 24.

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