Kovalev is the Mack Daddy of Russia, the Kovalev bandwagon is emptying way too soon.
He's actually played pretty well in parts of all our games, and been pretty bad in parts of 'em all. Hence his numbers - not where ya want, but better then most on his team. When they find a shooter for the PP he'll start getting more room and that top shelp blast from the dot will come home more often. Suddenly he'll have lots more points & our PP will come out of its funk.
They need to find a shooter, though. *If I was the coach* - I'd rotate Hamrlik, Brisebois and S.Kost until we knew which one was hitting the net the most often with the most force. Andrei Kostitsyn or Kovalev himself might be even better at that job, but on the PP they need to be lower & in motion to maximize their talents.
What to do with Kovalev otherwise?
I doubt he'll go all-out checking people 5 on 5 in any game where he plays lots and lots of PK time, and right now the team is playing down a man way too much. (His penalties always seem to be selfish ones, don't they?)
Again, *if I was the coach* - his icetime would decrease by sitting more on the PK. Yes it puts our best player on the bench for longer. But I'd look for him to play with more jam both ways with a bit more hunger for those backchecking assignments. Now I know it's sort of the reverse from the usual "decrease the PP time to punish the player" mentality, but it punishes the team more to remove him from the powerplay. I doubt any of his teammates will grudge the fact, as not one of them has the skill he does when the PP is functional.
Higgins can take up the slack on the PK. I like watching Kovalev and Plekanec kill penalties, there's always a chance of scoring a goal. But part of me is really wondering if doing that job too much is bad for their respective games. Carbo seems to make everyone kill penalties no matter what as part of his system for icetime. Not sure it's helping here.
Kovalev is doing fine for now, he might benefit from parking it on the bench a bit for a while to "sit" him during a PK or 6, and suddenly the BS shifts may dry up and his line gets on track.