Alex Kovalev and Robert Lang, linemates in Pittsburgh, will have to wait another day before they can skate together in a game as members of the Montreal Canadiens.

Kovalev did not take part in a morning skate at Verdun prior to the team’s departure to Detroit and tonight’s preseason game against the Red Wings, because of a groin injury. The two have been skating on a line with Guillaume Latendresse during training camp, but with the injury to Kovalev, youngster Thomas Beauregard will move into number 27’s spot.

“Another groin,” said a frustrated head coach Guy Carbonneau following the morning skate. “It’s kind of frustrating for a coach because we had a plan for preseason games and now with all those injuries we’ll have to change up a little bit.”

Kovalev is one of a number of Habs going through “groin pains.” Newcomer Georges Laraque is another. He was hurt during the opening weekend of training camp. Veteran defenceman Roman Hamrlik went down with a groin injury in the team’s opening-game 8-3 loss to Boston Monday night. Then there’s Team Captain Saku Koivu, who is still nursing a sore foot after suffering an injury while training in Finland about three weeks ago. Koivu is on skates, but has yet to see game action.

As frustrating as the injury situation is for Carbonneau as he looks to formulate his roster during the preseason, the important date that he has circled on his calendar is October 10th, when the Habs open the regular season in Buffalo against the Sabres.

“That’s what I’m gearing for. Injuries disrupt your plan that you had for training camp, but I know there is a lot of time left, including three games next week. It’s during the last two preseason games that I would like to have a full lineup that will start the season.”

After their 8-3 opening-game loss to Boston, the Canadiens beat the Sabres 3-2 last night in Roberval, a performance that pleased The Coach.

“I think the first game we were off a little bit. Yesterday was a lot better.”

The Canadiens will return home following tonight’s game in Detroit and prepare for their pre-season opener at the Bell Centre Friday, when the Ottawa Senators are in town.

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