Will boobirds roast Kovalev Tuesday?

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:20 PM ET

L’Artiste will face the music Tuesday night at Scotiabank Place.

The boobirds may be out in full force to welcome winger Alex Kovalev back to Ottawa for the first time since he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins by the Senators last month.

Kovalev, 38, who had only 76 points in 131 games with the Senators after signing a two-year, $10-million contract in 2009, didn’t have many highlights in the building.

To call No. 27’s stay with the Senators disappointing would be an understatement. His performance was underwhelming, underachieving and, most nights, just awful.

“At times, sure (it was tough to coach Kovalev),” said coach Cory Clouston. “He plays a game that not many guys play in this league. He plays a skill game and a puck-possesion kind of game.

“The way teams check and how fast the game is now, sometimes it’s tough to have success as an individual and sometimes it was difficult to understand or read where he was going to be.

“In saying that, there were nights where he was our best player. The biggest problem was consistency. There would be some nights where the guy was a Top-10 player in the league. There was other nights where ... it’s been like that his whole career.”

Whle Kovalev didn’t like Clouston, the coach didn’t have an issue with the way the veteran conducted himself.

“I had no problem with him, personally. I liked him. He was a good guy,” said Clouston. “He’s a different kind of a guy. He wasn’t a distraction or cancer in the room in any way, shape or form. It’s just unfortunate that he had a bad (knee) injury that he was recovering from and the consistency just probably wasn’t what we would have liked it to have been. Ask any coach who had him the last 18 years, they probably would say the same thing.”

Few disliked Kovalev. He’s just not an impact player anymore — with just one goal in eight games with Pittsburgh.

That being said, his former teammates will be glad to see him.

“It will be exciting. I’m really good friends with him. He was a great teammate to me and all the guys in that locker room,” said winger Nick Foligno. “I’m sure it will be a lot of fun for everyone. I’m sure he will be raring to go for that game.

“He taught me skill things and then things you don’t get normally taught. He’s been a real big influence on me in a sense of how to play the game and what to look for. We definitely miss him, but I’m happy he’s in a good situation (in Pittsburgh).”

Foligno said people don’t get Kovalev.

“He’s misunderstood. He’s a guy who really cares a lot,” said Foligno. “He really cares about how he’s playing and how the team is playing. Sometimes he gets a little unfair treatment. He’s been in the league a long time, so he’s done a lot of right things. He’s a world-class player. When he’s on, he’s fantastic.”

Too bad those nights are few and far between.

SENS NOTES

The Senators sent LW Ryan Potulny and D Derek Smith back to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton Monday. The club will have to recall two players Tuesday morning ... G Robin Lehner is out of the Baby Sens lineup indefinitely with back spasms. G Mike Brodeur will dress as the backup to Barry Brust.


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