Kovalev out for Playoffs
According to TSN, Senators forward Alex Kovalev will miss the entire Stanley Cup playoffs with a torn ACL.
The Russian forward suffered the knee injury Thursday night in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, which the Sens, already having clinched a playoff spot, lost 4-3 in overtime. Kovalev will require surgery to repair the damage, which he's scheduled to receive within two weeks.
This, of course, means that Kovalev will miss the entirety of the Senators playoff run, no matter how long it goes. The injury requires rehab time of three to four months.
Upon being interviewed on the matter, general manager Bryan Murray didn't sound all too disappointed, saying that Kovalev "was a real fine player for (the Senators)," and was "a guy that occupied a good player on the other team. He was a tremendous complimentary player for Mike Fisher."
Kovalev hadn't scored in 4 games before he was injured, and in a whopping 13 games before that. He will finish the season with 18 goals and 49 points, his lowest totals since the 2006-07 season in Montreal, and one of the worst seasons on his career, despite signing a lucrative 2 year, $10 million contract this past summer to join the Sens, in what will probably be the twilight of his career.
I apologize if I don't sound too sympathetic for either Kovalev or the Sens. Of course, I respect nearly every player in the league, and I certainly don't wish injury upon anyone, but you have to think that Kovalev isn't that big of a loss to the Senators, and in fact might be a blessing in disguise. Like usual, Kovalev shut down and stopped producing the moment it started to matter the most to the Senators, when they were looking towards clinching a playoff spot and moving up in the standings, potentially as high as 3rd or even 2nd place in the conference, ahead of the now Northeast-clinched Buffalo Sabres.
In a near 20 year career, Kovalev has never reached his full potential. He has all the tools necessary to dominate this game, but he was always lacking in heart and determination. His raw, natural skill, which is above and beyond nearly anyone else's, possibly in the history of the game, but in professional sports, sometimes it takes more than talent.
Why do you think Alex Ovechkin succeeds? Because he cares. Because he supersedes the mantra that all Russian players are lazy, a reputation that Kovalev has played a major part in building.
Kovalev needs to take a long look at himself this summer. A long look at his stats, and why he still plays in the National Hockey League. Bryan Murray can say whatever he wants, but the Ottawa Senators wouldn't be any worse without him, even if they never signed him. And that's definitely something to think about before coming back next season after such a major injury.
Of course, he'll probably prove me wrong and have a near-career year, as he usually does after a bad one. Nevertheless, it's going to be seriously interesting to see how the Senators react going into the playoffs without him.