NEWARK, N.J. --
It makes no difference to New Jersey Devils
forward Ilya Kovalchuk
who the next opponent will be in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning on Monday.
Still, a series against the Washington Capitals
and fellow countryman Alex Ovechkin
would make for a pretty neat storyline.
"It would be nice … the first time ever [that both players meet in the playoffs]," Kovalchuk told the media after practice on Saturday. "He's one of the best players in the League and it's nice to play against those guys, but that's something we'll talk about [on Sunday] if it even happens."
Kovalchuk said it wouldn't motivate him even more to face Ovechkin in the next round.
"You don't need anything else … you're in the conference finals," Kovalchuk said. "I'm sure everybody will be pumped up and ready to go. It doesn't matter. For sure, it'll be nice. We're both Russian and the same age. I think if they win, that'll be their first time in conference finals so I'm pretty sure it'll be special for both of us."
For the record, Kovalchuk turned 29 years old on April 15; Ovechkin is 26.
Kovalchuk wasn't too concerned when asked his opinion on Ovechkin's limited ice time in the postseason. The Capitals captain has averaged 19:46 on the ice in 13 postseason games.
"That's their business and their problems," Kovalchuk said. "I'm pretty sure they're winning and that's all that matters at the end of the day."
Devils coach Peter DeBoer
said everyone's ice time is limited this time in the season.
"Coaches are playing four lines a game, and I think this time of year, almost everyone's minutes are down a little bit," DeBoer said. "Ovi's are down more significantly, but they have enough depth with that type of player there, with [Nicklas] Backstrom and [Alexander] Semin where they can do that."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale