If you were lucky enough to listen into Alex Kovalev’s post-game interview with Sportsnet’s own Ian Mendes, Kovalev didn’t look worried at all. He replied to Mendes’ question about his “slump” by remarking “I wasn’t on a slump. If that’s what you guys call it, than fine. I was working, and going for it. I just couldn’t find one in the back of the net. Now God has rewarded me”. Oh my, arrogant Russians always please me. But this time the Russian is right. THIS IS ALEX KOVALEV. Streaky, but full of skill. He works hard most nights, but the media just sees what he gets on the scoreboard. When he finally got one past Jose Theodore last night in another Senators-Capitals thriller, it was a perfect way to end not just the game, but the streaky month of March.
It’s always important to head into the playoffs with momentum. See the 06-07 version of the Senators, and last year’s version of the Pittsburgh Penguins and especially the Carolina Hurricanes. If Ottawa can win 3 or 4 of the 5 games they have left in the regular season, they’ll be in good shape heading into the big dance. Of course, Ottawa didn’t clinch a playoff berth last night because the Leafs and Islanders suck monkey balls. But if they can get at least one point tomorrow against the ‘Canes, they’re in. Good thing to lock up the spot a bit earlier.
I want to just add in a comment on goaltending. On a previous episodes of “The Sens Show” on Sens TV, Ian Mendes regarded that goaltending wasn’t the real problem during the earlier losing streak. He also cited that goaltending doesn’t always have to be the difference, citing examples such as Ray Emery’s run in 2007, and the top three teams in the NHL this season, the Capitals (Theodore, Varlamov), the Sharks (Nabokov), and the Blackhawks (Huet, Niemi). Well that may be true in the season, goaltending matters a lot during the playoffs. The past Stanley Cup winning goalies (Gigeure, Osgood, Fleury) don’t necessarily perform as well as they could in the regular season, but they step it up in the playoffs. San Jose’s a different situation because they already have a guaranteed No.1 in Evgeni Nabokov, who has been playing better since melting down in the Olympics against Team Canada. San Jose’s got a chip on their shoulder like the 07 Senators, and even though it pains me to say this (I’m looking at you Dany Heatley), I think they’re going deep this time.
On a side note, Zack Smith has been re-assigned to Binghamton. Personally, he should be staying up, but it’s likely a move to give his more playing time in Binghamton while get Bobby Butler’s feet wet to see how he goes. But the Zack Attack will be back for the playoffs. Count on it.