Someone has been slowly creeping back into style for quite some time now. They call him Andrei Markov, and he plays defence for the Montreal Canadiens. Tonight, Markov will bring his fine game into Anaheim as the Habs close up a four game road trip.
Markov is not the only Hab who is suddenly becoming hip again. Richard Zednik, who earlier today took home Player of the Week honors, is red hot with seven points in his past five games, while his linemates Saku Koivu and Yanic Perreault have been producing, too. Perreault has put up five points, two of them goals, in his past five matches, a total that is helping him regain some respect, too.
Perreault is a constant target of abuse from many fans and a verified member of the rumor mill, but he has been solid out on the ice. Has he been solid enough to stick around past tomorrow afternoon? Only those in the front office know for sure. Perreault, who’s faceoff abilities and dangerous shot could be of interest to other teams around the league, is quite valuable to the Habs as a depth player. After all, don’t expect to be playing his current role once a certain someone returns.
And who is that certain someone? Why, it is Alexei Kovalev of course. Kovalev’s much anticipated first full game with the Habs will be put off another night, likely until Thursday where he will in all likelihood hit the ice against the Florida Panthers in Montreal, at a Bell Centre that is sure to be full to the brim with excitement.
Gainey’s other pre-deadline acquisition was much smaller and much cheaper, but has already come through in a big time way. Jimmy Dowd, who’s shown that he’s no stranger to wearing his heart on his sleeve and playing his guts out, already has two points through two games with the Habs, and seems excited and enthused while playing. He’ll likely centre the third line tonight, a role that the fourth rounder he was dealt for will likely never fill.
On the topic of draft picks, Bob Gainey already had a few extra to dangle freely from previous moves made by the Habs regime, but perhaps he wouldn’t mind moving a veteran, particularily one who’s contract comes up at the end of the season, in order to restock his pool of draft choices. While players such as Perreault, Joe Juneau, and Andreas Dackell have all paid there dues and helped the team to the best of their abilities, the recent acquisitions and players soon returning from injuries could cause an overload on the roster.
Dowd, who should centre the third unit for the remainder of the season, provides not only depth but a solid option down the middle. Considering that Chad Kilger, a former Duck, has already been waived through the league, it would not be easy to deal him. And, so, if the Habs are looking to move a body to make way for the future returns of Kovalev, Jan Bulis, Niklas Sundstrom, and Sheldon Souray, than we will most likely see a veteran move for a small return.
Enough of the trade talk, though. While piles of it is probably already swirling through your mind, the speculation and whispering will all end soon enough. After all, by the time the final buzzer goes, deadline day will already have begun for some of us, thanks in part to the time change from the West coast. Tonight’s game ends the road trip, one which many envisioned would be a difficult one, and leaving California on a high note would be a job well done indeed. Despite picking up two straight wins, we’ve looked rather unordinary.
Unordinary play could be a fairly simple chain to break, at least if J-S Giguere doesn’t play up to expectations tonight. For the most part, he has played shaky all season long, with a few spurts of brilliance. And, while he is playing host to his home-province team, his 2.56 GAA will not only make his cheeks red in embarassment, but could make his neck quite red tonight, too.