I agree 100% Plek and Andrei are stalled because of Kovi not passing to the head man in the neutral zone. Plek needs to go in with speed, he can't spend his carreer checking his way to the front of the net or the corner from a dead stop at the blue line, what a waste.
Kovi-Lang-Tender or Kosto (my pick)
K bros + plek (Please Carbo use these quy's potential!)
Tanguay - Koivu - Higgins (our best line by a mile)
Whatever and whoever is left on the check line.
Though it would become 100% predictable (up from 95%) that Kovi is going to skate the puck in, at least he would be playing with two heavy guys who would only need to skate to the net and keep their stick down, who are also both good at cycling the puck down low if nothing opens up. Kovi would start shooting, we would potentially have 4 lines playing north-south.
The only problem with Kovalev in the lineup is the puck is not going in the net. It's that simple. In the last game, Kovalev could have easily gotten 2 goals. It's just not going in. It's not because he's lazy. He's jinxed. Trust me, everything will be fine once he scores a couple. The same for Pleks and Akost
The only problem is that he isn't scoring goals?
That may be the case for how some people see it, but I'm more disappointed in his play with the puck and the performance of whatever line he is on to be honest. He holds onto it too long, he doesn't use his linemates as much as last year, there are times when he tries to make the most difficult play available instead of taking the simple option, that is what appears to me to be the problem he has this year. The goal scoring side of things could click at any time for him. Have a look at Ovechkin, even he had a quiet patch this season, but he will put it together. Kovalev is still getting chances, they'll go in sooner or later. It's the play of whatever line he is on that is more concerning IMO.
For some people, as long as a player is producing points, they are happy with that player. For others, as long as a player is making every effort they can, regardless of performance, they are happy. As everyone has seen, there are a mix of both types of people on this board.
Personally, I can see Kovy is putting up points this year, which is good, but there are other things that I expect from him too. After his play last year, I expect him to recognise when part of his game isn't on and to adjust accordingly. There have been too many occasions this year when he has tried to force a pass that wasn't on and given the puck away or when he has taken on too many people in the neutral zone and either slowed the momentum of his line or lost the puck. These problems not only affect his game, but affect how his linemates are able to play as well and it goes back to that quote (was it from Carbo?) from before last season: should we expect Pleks/AKost to give Kovy a spark or should we expect Kovy to give the young players a spark?
Kovy is a veteran on the team, he is an alternate captain and he was our best player last year, we need him to play his best and be a leader. Thing is though, he appears to be making the same mistakes repeatedly through the first quarter of the season. Now maybe the reason for this is his mental approach, maybe it is a physical issue, maybe he expects other things from his linemates that they aren't doing. But he is the key member of that line that should be looking for the answer: either change his approach, address whatever physical issue is affecting him or show the kids what he needs from them. But he doesn't appear to change anything. He makes the same mistakes he made in the first game as he did in the last game. He continues playing big minutes. We've seen with Andrei that he is on his game lately, but not with the ATAK line, so why is that the case?
So for me, a few goals by Kovalev won't fix what appears to me to be a more pressing issue, why any line he has been on this year, regardless of former chemistry (ATAK line) or current chemistry (Koivu + Tanguay) has struggled to play near it's best?
I'm a big fan of Kovalev too so this isn't just some mindless finger pointing, I've got one of his AK Bars jerseys, I've got an authentic Habs/Kovalev jersey and I've seen him play a lot of hockey. But for whatever reason, he isn't playing near his best right now. And I don't think scoring goals will solve that problem because that suggests to me that it would be some kind of confidence issue and one thing Kovalev has is a great belief in himself, so I don't see how a few goals will solve the issues in his play this year.
I hope he turns it round asap, but there is little indication from him that he will turn it round any time soon. We know he can still make highlight reel plays, that's because he is a highly skilled player. What we need from him right now though is more than a skilled play. We need someone playing well, consistantly, game after game who will help his young linemates and right now, that is not what I'm seeing from his play.
I think the more Kovalev thinks, the worse he plays, and that is the REAL problem right now.
Too many times this season, Kovalev is holding onto the puck too long, or trying to make a play happen that isn't there. Kovalev, as many people have stated, could be the most talented player in the NHL, but his hockey sense isn't great. It seems like the more time he takes to make a play, the worse his decision making is.
It's funny the one thing I don't question this year about Kovalev is his commitment and work ethic. I think he is trying as hard as last year, if not more.
I have faith Kovy will turn this around, and when he does it should improve the power play as well, as right now, Kovy's play on the PP might be the biggest problem with it so far this season.
Hey look, it's Duffman; the guy in a costume that creates awareness of Duff!