Big blow for Habs fans throughout the world: superstar Alex Kovalev will undergo knee surgery in Pittsburgh this Tuesday.
Kovalev is said to have to miss 3-4 weeks. Kovalev has been huge for the Habs this year, collecting 19 points in 18 games while averaging more than 20 minutes per game. Coach Claude Julien was using the power sniper on all situations, be it to shut down the opponent or to score the game winning goal, on the power play or on the penalty killing unit. The Russian was one of the stars in many games this year and his absence will be the most apparent on this smallish team.
As strange as it might sound the absence of Kovalev has some good in it. Before freaking out and saying “Alex has no clue of what he’s writing about!” Just take a deep breath and read the following.
While Kovalev might be said to be our MVP thus far, the team as a whole relies on him a lot, maybe too much. You often see a useless pass being made to our Russian friend, or you see the team as a whole not being too worried… because they know that the 1st line is gonna score in the last minute of the 3rd period.
This edition of the Habs, although by far superior to the ones we’ve seen the past decade, is overconfident. What we’ve seen so far is a winning team. What we’ve seen so far is a team which knows that they’re gonna win no matter what. However, this team sometimes… lay back and wait until they absolutely HAVE to score to start playing. Yes that’s a bold comment, yes that’s audacious for someone who doesn’t wear a CH jockstrap but that’s Hockey Psychology 101.
Zednik has been good but not great, Ryder has missed 90% of Ribeiro’s passes although they were on the tape and Ribs himself only give it all on half of his shifts. With Kovalev out, what you’ll see is a team shocked by Kovalev’s absence. You’ll see a team aware of the fact that without their main winger, they have to step up. So it would not be surprising to see Zednik and Ryder of old time, being the offensive stars they need to be for this team to win. So that’s the psychological effect of Kovalev injury; players stepping up to replace a teammate.
A more concrete effect will be the increased icetime of the youngsters. Alexander Perezhogin has great chances to win the first line winger sweepstake since he fared well last time he was used there.
Finally, the last good thing I have to tell you about Kovalev’s injury (I know, I don’t like the sound of that sentence either) is that Kovalev was performing one point per game with a knee injury! So just imagine when he will be back in one month what a 100% healthy Kovalev will be able to do!
On another note
Souray will be back on the blueline for the Habs next game. Also, because Bulis and Bonk are question marks for Tuesday’s game against the Panthers, the Habs recalled two way prospect Maxim Lapierre. So if during the game you think you see two Higgins with different numbers and names on their jerseys, read carefully, one of them will be Lapierre.