Looking ahead: Alex Kovalev
The Canadiens' leading scorer in 2007-08, both during the regular season and playoffs, the league’s top point-getter on the power-play, and a Second Team NHL All-Star team member; that represents only the tip of the iceberg of what Kovalev accomplished last season. Above all those impressive achievements, what the slick Russian winger proved most was that he still had very much left in the tank.
Despite being 35, Kovalev exploded for the second-most productive season of his career with 35 goals and 84 points. Linemates Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn also rode the Kovalev Express, with the youngsters each enjoying breakout seasons of their own alongside Kovy.
A model of consistency last year, Kovalev never went more than two consecutive games without registering a point. That was especially good news for Guy Carbonneau’s squad as the Canadiens sputtered to a 10-17-2 mark when Kovalev was held off the scoresheet, while cruising to a 37-8-8 record when he picked up at least one point.
The runaway winner of the Molson Cup as Canadiens player of the year last season, Kovalev can look forward to blowing past the 900-point plateau in 2008-09. Only 24 points away from the impressive milestone, Kovalev should make that a formality some time in November. If he manages to fill the net the way he did a year ago, Kovalev will also reach the 400-goal mark this coming season.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com