Three days after Bob Gainey stunned us all, the man he went out and acquired, Alexei Kovalev, is ready to play. The slick Russian will join captain Saku Koivu and leading goalscorer Richard Zednik on the top line.
Together, the three should form an explosive line, one that is capable of stunning the opposition. There will undoubtedly be some kinks to work out at the beginning of the game, but Hab fans are expecting big things from their prized acquisition, and right off the bat.
In Koivu, Kovalev will dress alongside an exceptional passer, someone who is capable of finding the 6’2, 220 pound winger. Don’t expect Koivu to be doing all of the work, though. Kovalev is a good skater and has a goal-scoring sense, despite only potting 13 markers so far this year. He has a laser beam shot, but perhaps his greatest asset is his remarkable stick-handling. If Richard Zednik continues his hard work along the boards, things will be all the more sweeter.
As for how the powerplay units will shake down, expect AK to play the left point on the first unit, likely with Andrei Markov playing the other half of the blueline. A Russian connection, indeed; and a highly talented one. It is possible that Mike Ribeiro could slide to the second unit in order to perhaps add some spark. After all, someone would have to slide down a spot, and considering Ribs’ chemistry with Dagenais, it could work.
The question is though, will Dagenais even be rewared with a roster spot tonight? Yanic Perreault far outworked him in San Jose, and would be perhaps able to slide onto Ribeiro’s line with Ryder, too. On the other hand, Dagenais can put the puck in the net. Although, if he’s not up to that, than he’s downright useless. Period.
Jim Dowd will not be playing tonight according to reports, as he is nursing a slight injury, and is still getting accustomed to the team. Expect Dowd, a hard-working, fan-favourite, type player to have a very underrated impact on the team, perhaps something along the lines of a less physical Steve Begin.
All in all, this is a much anticipated game that should be a dandy to watch. Kudos to Kovalev, who seems excited and enthused to join our team, and let’s hope that this former Cup winner shows it on the ice tonight.