He's not scoring, but Kovalev's contributing

The Ottawa Senators' Alex Kovalev is contributing behind the scenes. (Tony Caldwell/SUN MEDIA)

The Ottawa Senators' Alex Kovalev is contributing behind the scenes. (Tony Caldwell/SUN MEDIA)

CHRIS STEVENSON, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:33 PM ET

Alex Kovalev is a different cat.

As Senators practice was winding down Wednesday, he meandered through centre ice with a puck while the forwards did a drill at one end and the defencemen worked at the other. He stood in the line with the forwards for a bit then he skated over and joined the defencemen doing their drills.

When the media throng walked in and went to his stall, he said: “You got me, finally. I didn’t have a chance to sneak out.”

So much talent

Kovalev can be a frustrating player to watch because there is so much talent there, but doesn’t manifest itself often enough. He has four goals and six assists in 18 games and that gives ammunition to his detractors.

“For me, it’s not important what people think. It’s important what teammates think and the team thinks. People have their own opinions. Put anybody in the stands and they can see the game from a different point of view. It’s a lot faster on the ice,” he said Wednesday. “People want you to score every game and that would be an amazing thing. You can contribute in other ways ... The most important thing is to have success as a line.”

That has been happening.

Kovalev had a pair of assists in the win over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night, both on goals by centre Mike Fisher, giving Fisher nine on the season (the quickest he’s ever gotten to nine goals).

“I’m trying to get it to him. Everything is going in for him now, might as well pass it to him,” said Kovalev.

One guy who said he’s happy — one of the people whose opinion counts most —is Senators coach Cory Clouston.

“The comment was made that maybe he can’t play with Kovalev, but that’s not the case,” said Clouston. “My comment is always, if some of the guys started burying the chances ... (Kovalev) put (Jonathan) Cheechoo in on a breakaway the other night and he made a couple of other nice plays, a back-door to (defenceman Chris) Campoli. (Tuesday) a guy scores on his setups.”

Hear and there

The Senators have had a relatively easy schedule so far, but it heats up Thursday starting with the Penguins, the Northeast-leading Sabres Saturday and the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin on Monday. “Tough challenges, but they should bring out the best in us,” said Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson ... Alfredsson on the booing he received from Leafs fans at Scotiabank Place on Tuesday night: “They still love me.”

A-TRAIN STILL DERAILED

It looks like the Senators will have to make do without top defensive D Anton Volchenkov for another week. The “A-Train” was expected to practise with this teammates Wednesday as he makes his way back from a dislocated elbow he suffered Oct. 28 against the Panthers, but he has suffered a setback. “It didn’t respond a couple of day ago as well as we thought,” said Senators coach Cory Clouston. “There’s a little more soreness in there. We wished, we hoped he’d be ready to play this weekend, but that’s not looking like the case. (Next week) is probably what we’re looking at.”

WHEN THE BUG BITES

There are injuries and there’s what the Penguins have been through. They were down four defencemen the other night against the Ducks and found out Wednesday they’ve lost veteran Jay McKee for 2-4 weeks with an infected finger. The Penguins are hoping either Sergei Gonchar (who’s been out since Oct. 20 with a broken wrist) or Brooks Orpik (lower body injury) will be available to replace McKee Thursday against the Senators. Both practised Wednesday.

ODDS ’N’ ENDS

Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and W Chris Neil they took “maintenance days,” but they are expected back at their posts Thursday.


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