The Senators are almost at that infamous 15-game threshhold wherein it's deemed socially acceptable to start analyzing the current core of the roster in detail.So with that in mind, it comes as no surprise that in a Bruce Garrioch article that ran in the Ottawa Sun, he came out and shat on Alex Kovalev's production thus far saying that the enigmatic one who commands a $5M salary and has only 5 points to his name needs to step up his game.
Here's an excerpt from the article:
Senators coach Cory Clouston noted if some of Kovalev’s teammates had cashed in the chances he’s set them up with in last six games, he’d probably have “six assists in the last three or four games”, but he has to start clicking with linemates Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher.
“(Kovalev) had a couple of really nice plays around the net and if we bury our chances, like I said he’s got four or five points in his last few games,” said Clouston. “We need him to contribute a little bit more offensively. He’s gone through a bit of a break-in period.
“He should be familiar with our systems and his linemates and what we’re expecting from him. So, now it’s time for him to not just make those plays, but to bury them.”
What Clouston is saying makes sense. I can think of at least 5 instances where Mike Fisher was set up by Kovalev but inexplicably missed the net with his shot. If Fisher had buried more of his chances, Kovalev would have more points. But the part about Kovalev burying his opportunities doesn't make any sense because Kovalev is burying his chances. He has a shooting percentage of 23.5% The problem isn't that he's not burying his chances, it's that he's not shooting or getting enough chances. With only 17 shots in 12 games, Kovalev's not being the offensive shooting threat that this team needs right now. During his time in Montreal, whenever he'd receive the puck along the half boards by the right circle, it was just assumed that he'd shoot and score. He was always threat to shoot until he got to Ottawa. Now it just seems like he's too content to showcase his passing skills.
Don't get me wrong, I like Kovalev and I had no qualms when Bryan Murray signed him. He was coming off some productive years in Montreal and although he's 36-years old, he has the skill and talent necessary to put together a 50-60 point season. Considering the other deals that were doled out during the summer, I saw Kovalev as a reasonable short-term investment in a weak market. When compared to the terms being offered to other right wingers on the open market, his deal looks safe by comparison. And no offence to either of Ryan Shannon or Nick Foligno but Kovalev's not standing in the way of anyone who can conceivably log consistent minutes on the second line and be productive.
Besides, since Mike Fisher has started flanking Kovalev, he's turned into almost a point-per-game player. That's something pretty magical. Or maybe I'm just a fucking apologist? Meh.