Game 7 Preview: The "Artist" Returns to town

Some like to call him the artist. Others like to call him the second coming of Guy Lafleur. Some just call him lazy. Either way, Alex Kovalev is the closest thing the Canadiens had to a superstar since Guy Lafleur, whether he was one or not.

While all of that is as arguable as anything is, there are two things that are certain:

1) It's so weird to see Alex Kovalev in a senators jersey, and it's going to be even weirder seeing him in a Senators jersey in the Bell Centre.

2) Amongst fans, Kovalev was one of the most polarizing figures in 100 years of Canadiens history. While he was beloved by many, all the nights he took off and his alleged laziness on the ice made a lot of people hate him. Some couldn't wait to see him leave town. Others still miss him.

These factors lead into a very interesting encounter tonight at the Bell Centre, as the Canadiens are set to face off against the Senators in just a little while. And you have to think that if anything is going to motivate Kovalev it's going to be the situation developing tonight.

Whether Kovalev gets cheered or booed tonight, he's going to be a factor. Rest assured that this won't be one of Kovalev's infamous "lazy" games.

And while Kovalev will be the biggest factor tonight, there will be many others:

- Milan Michalek is coming off a 3 goal performance against Tampa Bay, and he's going to be looking into continuing his streak.

- Jason Spezza was all over the place on Thursday and played incredibly, despite being held to only 1 assists on the 7 goals the Senators scored. Considering he's put up 47 points in 36 career games against the Canadiens, he must be itching to put up some points.

- Pascal Leclaire returns to his home town (well, almost home town, seeing as he's from just off the island of Montreal) against a team he's only played 2 games against, but has only allowed 3 goals in those two games.

While a lot of the attention will be on the Senators tonight, it's still a game at the Bell Centre. The Canadiens look to break a 4 game losing streak, and while their performances have gotten better and better since getting routed by the Canucks. They looked good for two periods against the Oilers, and they looked good for two periods against the Avalanche.

It's time for them to put in a 60 minute effort, and it's time for the Habs to win.

The second line already proved that they can contribute, despite all the nay-sayers in the early part of the season. Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn contributed on both the goals the Canadiens scored Thursday night.

Tonight, the "little 3" need to have a big game if the Canadiens stand any chance at winning.

That being said, I don't think the Habs can end their slide tonight. There are simply too many factors against them.

Final Score Prediction: Senators 5 - Canadiens 3

Gionta, Cammaleri and Maxim Lapierre score for the Habs, as for the sens, Spezza, Neil, and Kovalev finally gets his Bell Centre hat trick.

Let's hope I'm wrong.

Guy Carbonneau will be doing commentary for CBC, so that's something else to look forward to.

Enjoy the game!

Prax
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