Game Day: A Dog Day Afternoon in Pittsburgh Starring Alex Kovalev

The Montreal Canadiens are in Pittsburgh to face the hurting Penguins (not that they aren't very hurting themselves), and we have your preview!

As a special treat, the pre-game for tomorrow's affair has been written by Shahab Khan, the newest TCL contributor for the Habs, who will be joining the team going forward. He has shared with us his thoughts on tomorrow's game, so read it, make him feel welcome and share your thoughts and predictions in the comments section!

Enjoy the game!

Prax

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Game Day – Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins
A Dog Day Afternoon in Pittsburgh Starring Alexei Kovalev
2PM in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the new Consol Energy Center

Montreal - Pittsburgh on an afternoon in March. What was the schedule maker thinking? Is it because of the U.S networks or conflicts with other sporting events? Will the attendance be higher and will there be more kids in the seats? These afternoon games are usually held during Superbowl weekend, Hockey Day in Canada or during the playoffs to appease the television networks in the U.S. But it’s still weird that we have to watch hockey when there is light outside. But, I guess we are already used to it with games starting at 7PM as opposed to the 8PM games we all grew up with. Those days of watching Saturday night hockey after watching episodes of Wayne and Shuster are long gone.

But one event from the 70s still resonates. Not an event but a movie based on something that actually happened. The movie was "Dog Day Afternoon" released in 1975 staring Al Pacino. Pacino, needing money for his partners’ sex change, decided to rob a bank. It was supposed to be so easy. A simple thing, rob a bank- walk in walk out – and take the money. But what was a simple thing turned into a hostage taking, a big media circus and ended in bloodshed.

In our story, Pacino is played by Alexei Kovalev. It should have been really simple for Alex. He has all the skills in the world. If you polled the players of the NHL, he would likely be voted the player with the most skills, still at the age of 38. Alex should have come into the league, showcased his skills, won scoring titles, MVPs, championships and walked away with a lot of money. But he’s only had two seasons with more than 80 points. He’s been traded four times for a total of 12 players, draft picks and cash. None of those players are in the league anymore. He has always had controversy surrounding his career, always creating a media circus. Flying planes to games and faking injuries to stop play in the playoffs or to explain giveaways leading to game winning playoff goals.

What was supposed to be so simple for Alex ended up being so complicated. He’s held of all us hostage with his potential, promise, skills and God-given talent. Those were the same reasons why he was drafted, why he was traded, why he is always wanted and why we still watch now, waiting for his story to end on a high note. It seems like he doesn’t even have to work hard at being good. No matter where he goes he ends up being a fan favorite (well except for his short stay in Ottawa).

Just imagine if this Dog Day Afternoon game was in Montreal. Les Partisans would be chanting his name. We all know that the movie ended in bloodshed and yes we hope that Alex’s career won’t. Well, he did just get traded for a 7th round draft pick which is sort of like being traded for a bag of pucks, but I digress. At least the movie had a beginning, a plot and an end. Conversely, it just seems like Alex’s career just hasn’t started yet, hasn’t fulfilled all if any of its promise and potential. It seems like he lost the plot years ago and unfortunately it seems like his career is coming to an end. And without Crosby or Malkin in the lineup, unlike the movie his career might end very quietly.

Who to watch on the Penguins:

Of course who else but Alexei Kovalev: Alex just turned 38 years old and has only scored one goal in his 6 games with the Penguins. Due to all the injuries, he gets to play on the top line and gets all the ice time he wants on the power play. All Montreal fans have a feeling that he will have his ‘A’ game on.

James Neal: Neal is getting plenty of ice time since being acquired from the Dallas Stars. Playing on the first line with Kovalev. The proto-typical power forward.

Matt Cooke: I don’t need to explain why.

Coach Dan Bylsma: Disco Dan just signed a 3 years extension which will take him into the 2013/14 season. Will security make him more complacent: probably not.

Most Recent Game:

Pittsburgh 3 - Buffalo 1: A home win for the Penguins was Marc-Andre Fleury’s 29 win compared to Carey Price’s 32 wins. James Neal, Zbynek Michalek, Mark Letestu all scored for the Penguins.

Key injuries:

Sidney Crosby is out with concussion symptoms and has no timetable to return. Evgeni Malkin had right knee surgery and is out for the season. Brooks Orpik is out 4-6 weeks with a broken finger.

Weird but telling fun fact:

Sidney Crosby is still in the top 10 in scoring even after missing most of 2011.

Who to watch on the Canadiens:

Whomever plays with Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta: Benoit Pouliot started on the line but was benched after his penalty. Both Andrei Kostitsyn and Ryan White took turns but it looks like a Hamilton Bulldog might have to be called up.

Lars Eller is playing with more jump and showcasing all his skills.

Most Recent Game:

Montreal 1 - St. Louis 4: a tired half-hearted loss in Missouri could have been predicted. Jeff Halpern scored his 10th goal.

Key Injuries:

To many too discuss.

The game starts at 2pm and will be broadcast on RDS and CBC.

Shahab Khan (the Schoolboy)

Comments

George Prax's picture

I thought this was a great write-up Shahab and although I already welcomed you I want to say again how glad we are that you're on the site with us. I really liked the comparison of Alex Kovalev to that movie, really interesting stuff. It's a real shame how crappy the Bruins game made the rest of the week, because this was supposed to be a great one. Bruins rematch tuesday, Halak Thursday, Kovalev tomorrow. Real shame it had to be ruined. Oh well. Hopefully the Habs can bounce back from Thursday and put forth a good effort and come out with a win - they need it.