How Can Clouston Get Kovalev Going

SensChirpContributor IOctober 14, 2009

OTTAWA - OCTOBER 8:  Alex Kovalev #27 of the Ottawa Senators looks on during the game against the New York Islanders at Scotiabank Place on October 8, 2009 in Ottawa, Canada.  The Ottawa Senators defeated the New York Islanders 3-2 in overtime.  (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

It’s a question that NHL coaches have been trying to answer since 1992 when the enigmatic superstar entered the National Hockey League.  Figuring out a way to keep this extremely talented player productive and motivated is a task that coaches in New York, Pittsburgh, and Montreal have all struggled with.

When he's playing his best, Alex Kovalev is among the league's most gifted and dangerous players. His ability to handle the puck is second to none, and his combination of playmaking ability and goal scoring touch is rare in this league.

For Senators bench boss Cory Clouston, the challenge will be finding the right line mates for Alex and finding a way to keep him motivated and focused on the task at hand.

Throughout the early part of the season we've seen Kovalev play on line with Mike Fisher primarily.  While I understand the motivation in putting the two together I'm not so sure the styles mesh.

Fisher is a hard driving centre with limited finishing ability who creates the majority of his chances off the fore-check and going hard to the net. Kovalev is by far the most talented guy Fisher has lined up with and chemistry has been an issue so far.

I like the idea of Kovalev playing on a line with Alfredsson. The Senators have tried this a couple times early this season with mixed results. These two veterans need some time to mesh, but I think they would be best served with a different centre in between them.

Rookie Peter Regin appears to be the ideal line-mate for Kovalev. While he is young, the Danish playmaker looks comfortable in the attacking end and seems to have the offensive instincts needed to play with a guy like Kovalev.

That would leave the Senators top three lines looking something like this




These combinations would give the Senators a balanced look up front and give Kovalev line mates with the offensive instinct required to play with a guy with his skill set.

Improving on a 1/15 start on the PP would probably help too...