Sens hoping for another Moonwalk

When the Senators' Alex Kovalev busts a move, it's a good night for the club. (Tony Caldwell/Sun...

When the Senators' Alex Kovalev busts a move, it's a good night for the club. (Tony Caldwell/Sun Media)

DON BRENNAN, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 6:46 PM ET

So what does Alex Kovalev do for an encore Tuesday?

The Funky Chicken? The Electric Slide? The Locomotion?

Senators would settle for seeing their 36-year-old veteran do the Moonwalk again. That means the Bruins will need to score at least four goals to beat them.

Kovalev performed the backwards dance step made famous by Michael Jackson in the 1980s when he skated onto Scotiabank Place ice as the game’s first star for his four-goal, one-assist explosion in Sunday’s 7-4 win over the Flyers. Apparently, it wasn’t the first time the shifty Russian showed he has what it takes for a future gig in Battle of the Blades.

“I started in Pittsburgh, when I scored hat tricks,” Kovalev said Monday, when asked about the orgin of his slick moves. “I don’t know, it just kind of came to me.

“Since then everybody waited for hat tricks. All my friends kept calling (and asking) ‘when are you going to get a hat trick? We want to see your Moonwalk.’ Last time I scored a hat trick I didn’t do it, and it was like, 20, 30 of my friends got disappointed. It was like, ‘how come we didn’t see your famous Moonwalk?’ So this time, for fun, I just decided to do it.”

Kovalev said it’s not a skill he practices.

“My kids love Michael Jackson so it didn’t take long to learn the moves,” he said with a chuckle.

Kovalev entertained his teammates with a repeat performance during on-ice stretches before yesterday’s practice.

“I think it’s pretty well done,” Jarkko Ruutu said of the Kovalev Moonwalk. “I think what makes it even better are the (mostly) white skates (he wears). It’s special.”

“He’s a beauty,” said Nick Foligno. “He likes to have fun. I think that’s what’s kept him in the game so long.”

Let the records show that Kovalev had his first four-goal outing in his 1,190th game, bringing his career total to 405, but his 2009-10 output to just 11. More offence was expected from the talented winger signed by the Senators to a $5 million salary just two seasons after his last 35-goal campaign, but Kovalev has helped in other areas.

The product is more entertaining with him in the lineup, as at least once a game he puts on an exciting display of his puck possession skills. He is tied for second in the league with four shootout goals, greatly assisting Ottawa in an area it has long had trouble. His is a much respected voice by his teammates, as was evident during last Saturday’s practice, when Kovalev stood off to the side with protege Ryan Shannon for what was clearly an instructional and one-sided conversation.

What’s more, Kovalev’s centre, Mike Fisher, is enjoying the best season of his career, and Shannon’s game has turned around dramatically (four goals and three assists in five games) since joining the Kovalev-Fisher line on Boxing Day.

“There’s some good chemistry on that line,” said coach Cory Clouston. “I think the last five or six games that line has played very, very well.”

Just when the Senators desperately needed it to. They are now 4-1 without Daniel Alfredsson in the lineup. Maybe the added responsibilty on his shoulders with both the captain and Jason Spezza on the shelf was what Kovolev needed to get going.

“It’s important, definitely you want to step up and bury those chances I keep getting,” Kovalev said after bearing more of the load. “At the same time I don’t want to get really frustrated over (not scoring). I know eventually it’s going to turn around. I know people are expecting me to score every game, but it doesn’t happen like that. It’s not an individual sport. It’s a team sport. Whatever we do we’ve got to do it together.

"Maybe the Gretzky era of 20-25 years ago when everybody wasn’t skating as well, you could probably do everything yourself. But these days, the players are better skill-wise, and it’s getting harder and harder to take everything on yourself. It involves the whole team to do the work.”

And the team, at 22-16-4, is seven wins ahead of where it was through 42 games a season ago.

“I’m happy, I don’t know about you guys,” said Kovalev, “but if you compare the stats last year where this team was to this year, I think we’re in perfect position. We’re still in a playoff spot. We’re getting some points, even without good players.

“I’m happy with the way everything’s going. Hopefully it’s going to happen for the rest of the season. I just definitely want to get it going. Hopefully they’re going to keep coming.”

With any luck, there may even be another Moonwalk in his future.


Videos

Photos