April 10, 2010
Even in season-ending injury, Alexei Kovalev is an enigma.
There's no candy-coating the fact that he's been a source of frustration for Ottawa Senators fans this season, with 18 goals and 31 assists crushed under the weight of a free-agent contract.
His offensive game has suffered droughts that would make the Sahara look like Seattle: Those 12 pointless games and a minus-12 after the Olympic break is one of the putrid stretches for any significant NHL player this season.
Yet because he's Kovalev, the "completely torn ACL" in his left knee -- putting him on the shelf for up to four months -- creates a "what if" for an Ottawa Senators team entrenched in the No. 5 seed in the East.
He's a playoff performer: 98 points in 116 career games, including about a point-per-game pace in his last four appearances.
Can the Senators win without Kovalev? Well, for the sake of context, they were 5-7-1 in March when he stunk and 10-5 in January when he scored 17 points. But that Kovalev has been M.I.A. since March.
At the very least, it'll be refreshing to see Kovalev finally achieve some consistency this season.